While I enjoy cooking, I don’t do a lot of baking. So, I decided to bake a cake recently which seemed relatively simple. I mixed everything together and put it in a cake tin and popped it in the oven. While I was waiting for it to bake, I was thinking about how easy that was and why I hadn’t done more baking in the past. After 55 minutes I pulled out my creation and let it cool getting more excited by the minute to taste it. You can imagine therefore my disappointment when I bit into it and instead of the light and fluffy texture, I was expecting it was dense and totally tasteless. As I went back over what I had done I found the cuprite. I had left out the baking soda. Amazing how only half a teaspoon of an ingredient could have such a huge impact.
Developing a story is very much like baking a cake.
A great story has some essential ingredients. If you leave out one, then the story will not have the same impact. So, what ingredients go into a great story? Let me mention 4 that you will not want to miss.
1. Story Characters
Every story has a protagonist and an antagonist. The protagonist is the hero of the story and as
such they must be someone that the reader/listener cares about and can show empathy
towards. It is vital therefore to make this person attractive. However, this person does not have
to be perfect, indeed people can relate better if there are some flaws in their character. If you
are the hero of the story it is vital that you are perfect and have all the answers as people will
not be able to relate to you.
The antagonist is the person or thing that gets in the way of the protagonist. They are the
source of tension and conflict and as such they are vital. They should be able to bring some
emotional tension to the story.
2. A Great Set-Up
The set-up of the story should introduce the main characters and the main problem that your
hero faces. You have a small amount of time to hook your readers/listeners, so you have to offer them a reason to care about the characters and the situation they face.
Conflict is by its very nature interesting. It is at the core of the story you are telling which is the
challenge that has to be overcome or the mystery that has to be solved. The set-up of the story
will have introduced the conflict and as the story continues the conflict should build. This
should grab the listener emotionally. The description should describe the inner emotions of the characters and the impact of the conflict.
The resolution is also called the climax. Listeners who are grabbed by a story need to know the
outcome of the conflict. It is important that the listeners have a resolution otherwise they will leave
unsatisfied and still asking questions. This resolution can also move to tell the moral of the story
and the lessons learned.
For this week’s EQ workout, I prepared a worksheet with these four-story ingredients and some questions to help you develop your story.