Story Is Everything

The bestseller lists have always been dominated by tellers of good stories. From Dickens and Poe to Dan Brown and J.K. Rowling, nothing sells better than a book with a brilliant story. In fact, as the title of this article states: story is everything.

cinderella poster from 1950

Truly great stories endure for thousands of years. The fairy tales of Cinderella, Aladin and Red Riding Hood have their roots in the spoken word of ancient cultures, going back to times before people could even read or write.

Look at television. The most-watched programmes on TV tend to be the ones with the best, most original stories: HomelandBreaking BadHeroesLost, the soaps. People love to be taken out of their drab, everyday lives and propelled into worlds beyond their experience. The same goes for movies and, of course, novels.

Dan Brown is often derided for his writing skills, but it doesn’t matter: he has the gift of storytelling. Once you start one of his novels, be it The Da Vinci Code or Angels & Demons, you simply have to turn the page and find out what happens next. I agree that his style can be a little irritating and his use of adjectives slightly grating, but who cares? Dan Brown sells books.

It’s possible to create a really good novel or movie set in the most unlikely of settings. Provided you provide enough twists and turns, you can set it in a dark house, an underground cell, wherever… It doesn’t matter what the setting is – whether it’s Hollywood, Hawaii or the next street to where you live – the most important factor is the story.

And for a successful story, you need structure. You have to have a beginning, a middle and an end. You have to have a protagonist who experiences conflict when he strives to achieve his (or her) goal.

For more about story structure and plotting, check out my inexpensive Kindle eBook: Million Dollar Story


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