How to Tell a Story

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Whether you’re attempting to write a novel or preparing for a speech, you should know the basics of how to tell a story. Even if you’re just going to socialize, this skill is useful. We tell stories every day. All of us are storytellers, we just don’t pay much attention to it. The only difference between the ordinary encounter and the bestselling novels is they know how to tell a good story.

Stories are important for society. It is what differentiates humans from other animals. The use of language on how to tell a story is a priceless gift to humanity. It is how we make sense of the world around us and how we connect to each other. Words matter greatly and this is how to expand your vocabulary.

If we’re going to be technical, in literature there is what we call the elements of a story. If you have dreams of becoming a writer, these are things that you should know by heart. Start with something simple like a short story. But be warned, just because it’s shorter than a novel doesn’t mean that it’s easier to write. Here are the 5 important elements of a short story which is useful in learning how to tell a story.

How Stories Shape Our World

The minute you are born, there is a story. In fact, even before you were born, your parents have been creating your story. How your mother conceived you and how she took care of you in her womb until the day you came out into the world, your story has been unraveling. And if you pay attention to the things that happen to your encounters every day even when you’re alone, you will see that you are creating a story and you know a bit of how to tell a story. How you tell that shapes your relationships and the way you achieve the things you do every day whether for short term or the long term.

There are many ways that stories shape our world. Humans are creatures of imagination.

  • Children

    When children play, they create a story by instinct. It is also through stories that children learn most effectively, sometimes in the form of a song. If you look carefully, nursery rhymes tell stories albeit simple ones. They help children make sense of how things work at an early age. And through this, you teach them how to tell a story.

    Kids learn about morals or right and wrong through stories. Through the story of The Boy Who Cried Wolf, they learn the consequences of lying. They learn math by being told how Mrs. A had three apples and one fell off so two were left. Stories are the foundation of learning.

  • Bridging Reason and Emotions

    People are not usually rational decision makers except for some who have very specific qualities or have practiced it deliberately. We make decisions based on our emotions and we just don’t notice it. Even purchasing decisions are emotional ones. Sometimes, reason and logic contradict our emotions and it is through stories that we bridge that gap.

    When we piece together events and actions and the consequences that arise from them, we are mapping out a story. We don’t notice it but we are learning how to tell a story. From this story, we can reconcile logic and our emotions.

  • Self Discovery

    When we listen to other people’s stories, we take on a journey and relate this story to our own. It leads us to self-discovery. Often, we only learn things about ourselves by hearing stories from others. We realize how another person’s experience is similar or different from ours and from there, we make sense of what is happening in our lives. We learn and then we also share.

  • Culture

    Collective stories are the basis of culture and our own personal stories open the doors to how we view ourselves as individuals. Stories shape our culture and how we perceive the world. Each culture has stories that dictate how people live their lives. Our ancestors relied on mythology to make sense of reality. Religious culture is dominated by stories coming from that religion. These cultural ways of how to tell a story are all attempts to explain the truth.

How to Tell a Story

Now that you know how stories shape our lives and the world around us, wouldn’t it be a great power if you know how to tell a story and a good story?

  • Character

    The most important part of your story is the character. This could be you if you’re telling a story to your friends or it could be a fictional character if you’re writing a novel. You must define your character to learn how to tell a story. What does he or she do? Where are they from? What do they like and dislike? What are their strengths and weaknesses?

  • Goal

    If your character does not have a goal, you don’t have a story. You need a goal to move your story from point A to point B. Without this, your character is just a picture on a blank paper. Decide what is your character’s goal and your story will flow on how he or she tries to achieve it.

  • Struggle

    This is one of the things you need to master on how to tell a story properly. This is what will make your story interesting. The struggle is what keeps your character from achieving the goal. Technically, you can have a story without a struggle. The character has a goal, goes from point A to point B and reaches the goal. The end. But it does not make a good story. Create a struggle and let your character figure out how to overcome it. It could also be a person in the form of an antagonist.

  • Turning Points

    The turning point is when your character makes a decision that changes his or her situation. This is true for our everyday lives and the big events that happen to us. There can be more than one turning point. Until the character reaches the goal.

  • Climax

    The climax is the part of the story where the tension or action reaches its highest or sometimes the crisis point. It is when the conflict of the plot is resolved.

Naturally, when mastering how to tell a story, always end with a conclusion that your audience will understand. You can leave hanging questions as long as it still somehow concludes your story.