Crafting Your Story: Techniques for Developing a Strong Narrative

Techniques for Developing a Strong Narrative

Middle Earth
A map
Man vs himself
Proper magnitude

Finding Your Story's Theme

Finding the theme of your story is essential to crafting a strong narrative. It’s important to ask yourself what message you want to convey and how it will be relevant to your audience.

To do this, consider the truth that you want to tell. This could be something you consider a universal truth, spanning across time periods and geographies.

For example, Homer’s *Odyssey* tells the story of Odysseus’ journey home after the Trojan War. Its themes of bravery, loss, and the desire to return to your loved ones continue to move audiences nearly three millenia after its composition.


Alternatively, your story could be more personal, and aim to express the truth of your experience. This is less about considering universal values, and more about expressing your own lived experience.

For example, the story of Malala Yousafzai became a global phenomenon – but the experiences she describes in it are not exactly relatable to most people. In this instance it is the unique and extraordinary experiences of an individual – and her ability to express the truth of those experiences – that capture the audience’s imagination.

In either case – whether you’re expressing something universal, or something highly personal (or both!) – the starting point for a good story should be a truth: an idea or experience that you think will hit home with the audience you have in mind.

Creating Memorable Characters

Creating memorable characters is essential to crafting a strong narrative. Protagonists and antagonists should be realistic and relatable, allowing readers to connect with them on an emotional level. To do this, consider the character’s motivations, flaws, strengths and weaknesses – what drives them? What are their goals? How do they interact with other characters in the story?

For example, *The Lord Of The Rings* trilogy features Gollum as one of its antagonists; his tragic backstory reveals how power can corrupt even those who have good intentions at heart. By exploring these characters’ inner worlds through dialogue and action scenes we gain insight into their personalities which helps us understand why they make certain decisions throughout the story. Often, when telling a story you want to think about whether your enemy should be a rival or a villain. If it’s the former, it’s particularly important to show why your protagonist is the better option.


Building a Strong Plot

Aristotle’s “Poetics” offers insight into the art of storytelling, arguing that a compelling story must have a clear beginning, middle, and end, with a plot that progresses logically and coherently. For example, the *Harry Potter* each book following a distinct arc that builds upon the previous ones, leading to a satisfying conclusion.


Aristotle also emphasizes the importance of creating complex, multi-dimensional characters who undergo significant change and development throughout the story. This can be seen in the character of Walter White in the television series *Breaking Bad*, who transforms from a meek high school chemistry teacher into a ruthless methamphetamine manufacturer.

Aristotle’s “Poetics” also highlights the role of conflict in storytelling, arguing that a story’s plot should revolve around a central conflict that drives the action and engages the audience’s emotions. In *Game of Thrones*, for example, the plot is driven by the conflict between different factions vying for control of the Seven Kingdoms, creating a sense of tension and drama that keeps the audience invested in the story.

Aristotle also emphasizes the importance of catharsis, or the emotional release that comes from experiencing the characters’ struggles and triumphs. This can be seen in the emotional impact of the ending of *The Shawshank Redemption*, where the audience experiences a sense of relief and satisfaction when the protagonist, Andy Dufresne, finally escapes from prison.

Setting the Scene

Creating a believable and engaging world for your story is essential to captivating readers. To do this, consider the setting of your story – what time period does it take place in? What kind of environment will the characters inhabit? Are there any unique elements that make this world stand out from others?

For example, J.R.R Tolkien paints a detailed picture of Middle Earth in The *Lord of the Rings* trilogy with its diverse landscapes ranging from lush forests to barren wastelands; each location has its own distinct atmosphere which helps create tension or suspense depending on where Frodo and Sam are traveling at any given moment.

When crafting your own narrative, think about how you can use setting to enhance character development or plot progression – for example, if two characters have different backgrounds then their conversations may be more interesting when they are set in contrasting environments such as a bustling city versus a tranquil countryside village.

Additionally, consider adding small details like local customs or regional dialects which can add depth and realism to your storyworld without taking away from the main plot points.

Avoiding Contradiction and Holding Continuity in storytelling

When crafting a narrative, it is important to ensure that the story does not contradict itself. When it does, it is called a continuity error and can undermine both credibility and the suspension of disbelief.

For example, if a character slays a dragon with a sword that they earlier were upset about forgetting at home, it will undermine your story. Similarly, if you tell someone that you came up with the idea for your company while scrolling through Instagram in 1997, they’re likely to dismiss the rest of the story.


In addition to avoiding material contradiction within your narrative, it is also important to maintain continuity in terms of thoughts and ideas.

To do this effectively you should consider how each scene contributes towards advancing your plot or developing characters further – for instance if two characters have had an argument then there should still be tension when they next meet. One way of doing this is by drawing character graphs, showing how their moods or relative power changes throughout the plot.

Furthermore, try introducing elements from earlier scenes into later ones – such as recurring symbols or motifs – which will help tie together different parts of your story and make them more cohesive.

Case Study: Continuity in Lord of the Rings

The *Lord of the Rings* trilogy is a great example of maintaining continuity. Tolkien’s meticulous attention to detail can be seen in his maps, which are incredibly detailed representations of Middle Earth. He also included small details about characters such as their clothing, weapons and even their mannerisms – all of which help bring them to life on the page. This level of detail helps create an immersive world for readers that feels real and believable.

Tolkien was also careful to ensure that events in each book were consistent with those from previous books. For instance, when Frodo Baggins sets out on his quest he carries a map given to him by Gandalf – this same map appears again at key moments throughout the trilogy.


Balancing escapism with realism is vital in storytelling. Escapism allows readers to experience vastly different worlds to their own, providing a sense of adventure, wonder, and excitement. Realism, on the other hand, ensures that the story is grounded in reality, making it relatable and credible. The key to balancing these elements is the concept of “suspension of disbelief,” which refers to the audience’s willingness to temporarily set aside their skepticism and accept the story as plausible.

Types of Conflict and How To Expose Them

Conflict is an essential element of storytelling, as it creates tension and suspense which keeps readers engaged. However, this conflict doesn’t always have to come in the form of an obvious villain.

One type of conflict is a ‘man against nature’ story. In these, man is trying to overcome the laws of what is physically possible. For example, telling the story of how the Apollo 11 team landed on the moon might serve as a good example of a ‘man vs nature’ story. These conflicts usually don’t require too much setting up because people are already aware of the limits of our natural abilities.


The second type of conflict is ‘man vs society’. In a man against society story, a protagonist will have to overcome the doubts of everyone else. In these types of novels, it’s important to remember that society can often be considered as a character, and will need its own backstory.

The final type of conflict is ‘man vs himself’. In these stories, the protagonist has to overcome their own self-doubts to reach their goals. In this type of story, you will often want to spend more time looking inside the character’s head, either through monologue or through audible internal dialogue.

Incorporating Conflict and Tension

Conflict and tension are essential elements of storytelling, as they keep the audience engaged and on the edge of their seats. Aristotle’s Poetics states that a story should have a “proper magnitude” which means it must contain enough conflict to sustain interest throughout its duration. To create effective tension in your narrative, consider introducing obstacles or challenges for your characters to overcome.

Typically, these obstacles build from smaller ones to larger ones. The reason why this is is both because humans are naturally predisposed towards improving underdogs and also because it allows tension to build over a larger period of time. If a character slays a fire breathing dragon in chapter one, we wouldn’t be as excited about them fighting a tiger in chapter four.


This can be harder to do when telling corporate narratives: why is developing your medium sized company into a larger one harder than starting it in the first place? How can you keep people motivated even after victories? Often, it is by thinking about progressions of obstacles.

Revising and Editing

Revising and editing are essential steps in the storytelling process. It is important to take a step back from your story and look at it objectively, as if you were reading it for the first time. This will help you identify any plot holes or inconsistencies that need to be addressed before submitting your work.

When revising, consider how each scene contributes to the overall narrative arc of your story – does it move the plot forward? Does it add depth or complexity to characters? If not, then consider cutting or reworking these scenes so they better serve their purpose.

Additionally, pay attention to pacing – too much action can make readers feel overwhelmed while too little can cause them to lose interest. Aim for a balance between dialogue and description so readers stay engaged throughout the entire story.

When editing, a good tip is to read aloud what you’ve written; this helps pick up on errors more easily than just skimming through text silently. Also remember that feedback from others is invaluable – ask friends or family members for their opinion on how well your story works structurally and emotionally.

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