Today I am featuring a guest post from a friend of mine named Brenton Weyi. He is a writer and a businessman. I hope you enjoy what he has to say as much I did.
Brenton Weyi is a writer and social entrepreneur with an expertise in creating social movements through business and encouraging inspiration through writing. His company, Groupe Weyi, works with villagers in Central Africa to create lasting change through fair trade of resources. He also has a website for storytelling and career/life inspiration called Orastories.
Stories are the lifeblood of human connection. But there are some stories, from the moment you taste the opening line, to the moment you savor the last word – that stay with you forever. Many say that Anna Karenina is such a work (often hailed as one of the greatest novels ever written), despite the fact that it’s the length of five novels put together.
So how do the masters accomplish this feat? How do you writers keep you enthralled from start to finish and still leave you wanting more? Today we’re going to look at how to craft an unforgettable story.
Taking Center Stage
Think about one of your favorite stories – old or new. Got it? Now think about the main character(s) of that story. Got that too? I bet it didn’t take you long to have those characters come to mind. And I also bet that regardless of how those characters make you feel, they make you feel something strong. This is one of the most essential elements of an unforgettable story: and unforgettable character.
Many great authors ascribe superlative characteristics to make their characters as grand as they can possibly be; ‘the most evil,’ ‘the greatest,’ ‘the boy who lived’ etc. How can your story get grander than one surrounding ‘the greatest’ anything? Try to give your characters these absolute characteristics to take your narrative to next level.
The hero grew up next door to his arch nemesis? Every reader love those “I can’t believe that!” moments. And great stories are full of them. They weave rich and unusual connections between key (and even not-so-key) characters throughout the narrative. This doesn’t require creating a complicated world, but it does call for a deep consideration of how you want to characters to relate to each other. This reflection will help you formulate your…
In a great story, this idea delves so much deeper than two opposing characters or two opposing ideals. There’s conflict on every level; within characters, within relationships and within the narrative itself. Most great authors reveal their superlative characters to be rather…ordinary, at one point or another during the narrative. The great hero is exposed for being scared, and maybe even unwilling, to embark on his great journey. The great villain is exposed for actually having a humanistic side that suggests compassion toward certain individuals.
These internal conflicts lend themselves extremely well to greater conflicts in the narrative. This is because every character – just like a real person – has different motivations for different actions throughout the narrative. These actions could be motivated by altruism, revenge, spite, and so many others.
Over 90% of the fiction works on the NYT bestseller list last year included themes of death. And this is no new trend; so if you want to craft a great story, make sure that you include this theme in your story and make sure that it affects at least one of your major characters.
Memorable Beginning, Unforgettable Finish
People most readily remember the last thing they read and the first thing they read. Great storytellers understand this second-nature. Sometimes the beginning and end can be the same phrase. But however you choose to start and wrap-up your story, make sure it is something powerful. You only get one chance to hook a reader, and you only get one chance to release them feeling fulfilled (or wanting more).
Are you ready to write an unforgettable story of your own? Have you already written one? Do you have anything to add? Share your thoughts in the comments!
Now for the plug: I spend much of my time gathering the best stories. I have a short story podcast on my website called Original Retellings that features fantastic short stories from lesser-known writers, and I would love to share your unforgettable story! If you’re interested, click here for more details (don’t worry, it’s free).
Here’s to your amazing story,