Four Essential Elements of Good Storytelling

For anyone working on their first draft and trying to get their story published, one of the fundamental questions they might be asking themselves is about what makes the core elements of storytelling or what a story needs in order to work or in order to be great. 

If you can relate, then you are here at the right place.

Good Storytelling

Here are some of the most essential elements of good storytelling.


The first core element of good storytelling is character. As a rule of thumb, if you don’t have characters, you don’t have a story. The underlying reason is that the entire purpose of a story is to ensure that your reader can learn how to live better lives.

To learn something from the story, your readers should be invested in a character where they can focus on the character and learn from how they overcome obstacles and how they succumb to their flaws. 

Now, when it comes to character, you will want to remember one key, which is the aspect of the character’s internal journey. Many characters undergo an internal journey, which means that they have a character flaw and they overcome it.

The character might have a lie that they believe and they might overcome that lie over the course of the story.

Of course, you don’t necessarily have to have an internal journey – but – at the very least, regarding the characters, you should have the character have a goal or motivation.

When we speak about the character’s goal, we are essentially referring to the things that the character wants. On the other hand, when we refer to motivation, it is about the why of the character and why they want to meet that goal. 

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The second core element of storytelling is about the plot of the story. The plot is the external journey of the character and the external events of the story.

Previously, we mentioned how the characters have an internal journey where they overcome a flaw or a lie. In contrast to this, the external journey would be the physical representation of that internal struggle. 

Suppose you have a story where the character is climbing a mountain. Now, this event would be the external event as the character is climbing the mountain, whereas the story is really about the internal struggle of the character and the event that they are dealing with.

Perhaps the character is trying to overcome grief or pain resulting from a loss. In the example, the act of climbing the mountain would represent their internal struggle and how they are trying to overcome their grief. 

When it comes to the plot, you will have the external journey and the main plot, which can be the hero vs. the villain or the hero against the main force, which will be the antagonist. 

While writing fiction, you might also have subplots, which are usually there to challenge the protagonist so that the protagonist can grow as a person.

Now, if you feel like you can delve a bit further into plot and character development, you might want to sign up for the best novel writing classes and understand the basics of storytelling and how you can keep the reader’s attention from the very first page to the last one. 

Another thing that you will want to keep in mind with the plot is that you need stakes and that you should be raising stakes so that there is more to gain and more to lose for the protagonist. 

Have An Interesting Concept

The third core element of storytelling is the concept. The concept is mainly the thing that draws the attention of your potential readers by making them curious about what is to happen next.

If you are a Harry Potter fan, then you might already know that the concept can potentially be the idea of going to Hogwarts – the wizardry school. 

Another way to understand the core element of a concept is that it is the central idea or the selling point of your story. It is the central idea that your story is about.

There are two types of concepts when it comes to storytelling—the low concept and the high concept. The low concept is essentially the basic concept, which might be about friends living in New York.

Now, the high concept is about a “what if” scenario. For instance, if you have watched Breaking Bad, then you know that the story revolves around a high concept, which basically deals with what would happen if a chemistry teacher went rogue.

Or, if you have watched or read Jurassic Park, you know that the concept is what happens if there is a theme park with dinosaurs. 

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Next on the list, we have conflict, which is about a potential disagreement between two or more sides. Conflict is absolutely critical to storytelling as the audience or readers love to find out how the conflict in question will get resolved. 

There are two types of aspects around whom a conflict might revolve, such as a situation or an action. When it comes to situations, the conflict in a situation might be caused by the characters’ desires, where two or more characters might want the same thing.

Conflict could also arise where one character might do their best to prevent another character from getting something they want. 

In any given situation, action must be taken to solve or create problems. In this aspect, the action is all about how a character decides to solve or contribute to a problem. When we speak about action, we also include dialogue, as dialogue is an action of speaking words. 

When it comes to dialogue, you will want your characters to attack and defend in order to get information or hide information from each other. For instance, the characters might give orders, and other characters might fight back those orders. 

Speaking of actions and reactions, you must ensure that there is an equal and proper amount of reaction because if you overdo or underdo, it will kill the reader’s attention, and your book might come off as boring.