Stories are as old as evolution itself; the first ape who turned into a man must have told his tale with eloquence. Yet, we struggle to tell a story that captures the imagination of the reader or creates a natural and emotional connection with him or her.
Why is that so especially since we’ve been hearing stories since we were born, perhaps even before that, in our mother’s womb like Abhimanyu from The Mahabharata?
It could be that our story is boring – lit lacks interesting revelations, plausible characters or is so far-fetched that the reader doesn’t think it’s possible. But how do fantasies and fairy tales find success then? We know we can’t eat a house made of delicious chocolates or sweets, but we love the story of Hansel and Gretel.
The fact of the matter is that a good story is one that has a dramatic code embedded within itself, one that reveals a greater truth which people can directly relate to or experience through the story. Telling a good story, therefore, is not always a logical listing of events. The events themselves have to be narrated in a way that excites and intrigues a reader. So the end might have to come before the beginning, you see?
What is the dramatic code?
Whenever a story gives the reader something to think about or makes for an emotional experience, it succeeds. Cheers! You could hear them clapping at the galleries if the story turns into a movie. The wisdom from a fragment of life (in your story) is deemed to be similar to the insight gained from a short story.
But should our stories be preachy?
Nearly, never. The business of writers is to observe and record the finer nuances that underlay big events and incidents, not to preach (like a moral science lesson) of what’s wrong or right with the characters or their experiences. That is for the reader to assimilate and discover. The joy of discovery as we know it since we started to crawl and put things in our mouths from our home floor, only to spit them out later perhaps, continues to be a part of our consciousness.
Audiences are people, and they don’t need hand-holding to understand; they just want to be let into the world you’ve created in your story. Keep it authentic, don’t embellish a narration with your personal angst or thoughts, and it is likely to blossom into a riveting tale. Stories are, after all, a form of communication that expresses the dramatic code.
And what can the dramatic code do to your story telling abilities? Wait for it.