• Lauren Straley

The Secret To Writing A Sucessful Story


A writing utensil—worn, shaved, sharp.

Every writer craves readers. They provide a collection of engagement, debates, and communication. A community for writers, their readers are a great place to get feedback, trail new ideas, and draw new connections.


Writing is meant to be read, but many writers struggle to get readers.


Why?


Online mediums have allowed for an unprecedented ability to exchange knowledge and ideas, providing a natural platform for both rising and established authors. With an abundance of new content available at the click of a button, what will make your writing stand out?


Storytelling.


All writing is storytelling in some form. From fiction to non-fiction, a captivating story needs to be present. People respond to stories for different reasons, but at the center it is the ability to connect with readers on an emotional level and speaking to a broader issue that makes good writing stand out.


Being a writer myself, this is something I continually work on. My job is writing and marketing for financial planners. Blogging in the financial space presents an exciting opportunity to infuse finances with compelling stories that teach, inform, and help people. I like to use every day examples with real people which humanizes the issues I discuss.


Writing a good story is all but easy, so I would like to share with you a few points to consider as you write (and rewrite, and rewrite, and rewrite, and edit, and rewrite) your next story.


A Story’s Skeleton


You can’t churn out a story without writing any words! Physically writing words, whether on paper or on a screen, is the first step.


I know that a cursor on a blank page is an intimidating start. I suffer from the pains of writer’s block often and if you find yourself in this position with your story, draw up an outline. Pencil in the characters, etch the plot, color the conflict, and by allowing yourself space to brainstorm these elements, you may find you have more ideas than you realized!


Long-form content can especially benefit from an outline—though I even outline all of my blog posts before I write them! The vessel of an outline works to fuel my creativity because it is a space to both create and organize ideas. Nothing is set in stone, the ideas are supported by a framework ensuring the story has continuity, structure, and flow.


Stories have natural arcs, they are constantly moving and if they move in a natural progression you will keep your reader’s attention. Do you know how that arc is designed?


You guessed it, in an outline!


An outline does not mean that the story must progress in a linear fashion. It can be chronological, circumvented, circular, and more. The outline is not meant to restrict, rather it can enhance the power of your story by mapping out a cohesive journey.


A Story’s Color


Once you become satisfied with the structure you have created, it is time to start splashing it with color. A story just isn’t a story without these crucial elements:


Setting

Characters

Plot

Conflict

Resolution

Theme


Meticulous color-work brings the piece to life.

Take a look at the image above. It depicts a stained glass rose. The artist began with the black outline to give the flower, stems, and leaves their shape. The mixture of greens, yellows, and oranges fill in the outline with dimension, flavor, and personality. The same goes for your writing!


Your outline is your basic structure—the etching of your story. The color comes from your characterization, setting, and descriptions that flood the narrative with your voice.


When you are working to color your canvas, think about the way the elements above interact. How can you convey each of them in different and unique ways?


The 5 senses are your best friends!


Sight

Sound

Smell

Touch

Taste


Infusing your story with the 5 senses will draw your reader into the story. You will be able to relate to them and give them a way to connect with characters you have created. The senses bring your characters to life. They give them personalities, habits, and connections. These elements force the show don’t tell idea of storytelling. It allows you the space to be creative and make your characters unique.


A Story’s Shading


In art, color is not always the focal point of the piece. Often the color can fade into the background with shades and tints added to create a feeling, sense, and mood. Your writing can do that too!


Now that you have a firm foundation and a lively setting, it is time to put the finishing touches on the piece. Here are a few things to think about:


Mood

Tone

Affect


You can create these elements in your story by thinking through the questions below.


What type of scenes are you creating?

What feelings are you trying to evoke from both your characters and your audience?

How are your character's interactions with their space, one another, and themselves informing the movement of the story?


Understanding the three points above will help put the finishing touches on your story. Without them, things can fall flat and uninspired. If you are looking to add another dimension to your story, consider the way your words influence the ideas above.


A Story’s Heart


Believe in your idea.


You’ve heard this before I’m sure.


I struggle with this all the time, letting self-doubt censor my writing. But when this happens, I like to return to my reason for writing the story. Every piece of writing should have a reason and intention behind it. You began your story because it meant something to you. Tap into that emotion to quell moments of self-doubt.


Even though it may be difficult, it is important to understand that if you are not passionate about your subject, how can you expect others to be?


Your ideas are valuable and your story deserves to be told, embrace that. Creating a successful story is not something that can be done overnight (though I may have tried that once or twice).


A story is a complex being, something that requires careful thought, planning, and execution. It is alright if you don’t get it quite right on the first try, all writers rewrite (I even rewrote parts of this post!) The most important part is believing in what you are creating, and it will connect with someone, and won’t that feel good!


A glow in the distance

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