How to write a compelling tale

You open a fresh window in your favorite word processor. You type your first word, sentence, paragraph. Perhaps you’ve decided to start with a rural setting…a farmhouse at sunrise. You begin to describe it:

The sun rises slowly over the rolling blue hills that surround the valley. Its rays of golden warmth creep across the fields and dance merrily atop the steeple of St. Andrew’s Chapel. Though the sun is just as old as the Earth…perhaps older…Andy McDerman couldn’t help but stand outside, in the cool of that particular morning, and close his eyes. He breathed in the crisp morning air and allowed his mind to visualize this amazing celestial sphere performing its ritualistic daily duty.

 Now what?

How does a writer go from the opening scene to the closing? While each writer has their own method, they all must follow the same basic principles to craft an amazing story: Capture the audience’s attention so intensely that the only means of escape is at the conclusion. Here are five steps to help you get started on the story you were born to write:


Start off slowly, with a vividly picturesque scene. When you have set the stage, introduce the first of your main characters; describe who they are and why their story matters.

The Build-up

After initially introducing the story and its main characters, allow it a bit of “Yard Time” so the plot can progress and thicken at its own pace. Before long, you will find yourself at the pinnacle of the story.


Now that you have reached the climax of your tale, you need to transition to the second half of the story. This is where the plight of your characters will really take off. Your apex could be a place or event that your main characters have been either been seeking or running away from; or perhaps it is an intense emotion that has grown between two or more characters. However, no matter what your climax consists of, it should flow evenly with the rest of your story—and it should be so exciting that your readers are finally hooked!


Next, you’ll want to bring your readers down from their literary high. This step is very important because you are now going to advance towards the conclusion. So your characters have been introduced and the story has climbed to its summit; now slowly resolve the predicament. When doing this, it is important not to approach the descent too quickly. It should flow smoothly, gradually tying up all the loose ends. If you move too quickly in your descent, the story will appear far-fetched and you may lose all credibility with your readers. On the other hand, if you move too slowly the reader may lose interest, close the book, and never return to it.


Again, this part of your story is very important. In comparison to the rest of your book or short story, the finale is the second most important part; the first being the Preamble. If your story lacks a proper finale, readers may relay a negative message to others. But if your story contains an ending worthy of praise, then you will be more apt to gain additional readers.

So how do you write a proper ending to your story? The main goal of the finale is to wrap up the entire story. In the descent, you started tying up loose ends, but now you have to finish the job. The conclusion of your book or short story should bring everything to an end.

As with the descent, you should be careful of the pace; it should be equally smooth, yet winding down. By the time you reach the last few pages, your pace should match that of the preamble. And above all, avoid the typical clichés and endings that will leave readers unimpressed. Make sure that when you end your story, it is something unique and unexpected.

   There you have it…the five steps to writing a compelling story. Please note that these are only suggestions, and every writer has their own specific style in which to write a story. But hopefully these five steps have helped to guide you in the right direction. Everyone has a story to tell…and the world wants to experience yours!       

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