The Challenge of a Story

Every good story is built around a problem, a conflict, or a challenge for its protagonist. The reader will root for him, agonize over his setbacks, and rejoice in his eventual triumph. A beginning introduces the main character in action and sets up a story problem. A middle shows the character tackling the problem. An ending resolves the problem. The dramatic high point is the climax of the story.

Our forebears communicated knowledge, accumulated wisdom, and common experience through the magic of words. Stories have forecast danger, celebrated heroes, provided building blocks for peace, triggered wars, and vilified enemies. It was a way of entertainment. We look for excitement, wisdom, and comfort from a story. It connects us and takes us to other worlds.

As writers, you give voice to the voiceless. You introduce new ways of thinking and lift the reader closer to the light. There is power and purpose of story. Storytelling is an art and a craft. A good story captivates its audience and as writers we must master the skill.

There are many facets to a story as there are people to imagine it. The seed of a story is encountering the extraordinary in the ordinary. Expose your imagination to possibilities. Each author should approach the structure of a story in a way that is comfortable for him.

In the beginning, define what your hero wants and why he wants it. In the middle, create the obstacles the hero must overcome to reach his goal. And in the end, resolve the situation in a believable way. Once you’ve settled on these fundamentals, build the story around them. Consider the different ways to structure your narrative and choose the methods you prefer. Trust in your story and promise yourself you’ll finish it.

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