Rules for Great Story Telling

Real people juxtaposed with extraordinary circumstances makes an exceptional story. Writers hope to develop such stories in the hopes of captivating a reader until the very last word. The mystery of how to create a great story is a topic that writer Andrew Stanton (of Wall-E and Finding Nemo),  gave an inspiring talk at Ted Talks titled, “Andrew Stanton: The Clues to a Great Story.”

According to Andrew Stanton, here are top four notable rules to a great story:

  1. Unifying theory of 2+2: Make the audience put things together. Don’t give them 4, give them 2+2. The elements you provide and the order that you place them in is crucial to engaging the audience or not. It’s the invisible application that holds our attention to story.” Andrew Stanton
  2. Key insight to characters: All well-drawn characters have a spine. The idea is that a character has an inner motor, a dominate, unconscious goal that they are struggling or striving for, or an itch they can’t scratch. Wall-E’s was to find the beauty. The spines don’t always mean you make the best choices.” Andrew Stanton
  3. Story writing: Drama is anticipation mingled with uncertainty. When you are writing you stories, have you constructed anticipation? In the short term, have you made your audience want to know what will happen next? But, more importantly, have you made the audience want to know how it will all conclude in the long term? Have you constructed honest conflicts with truth that creates doubt in what the outcome might be? Andrew Stanton
  4. The magic ingredient of storytelling is wonder.  It is honest, innocent, and can’t be artificially invoked. There is no greater ability than another human giving another person wonder, or to hold the audience still for a brief moment in their day so they can surrender to wonder. The best stories infuse wonder.” Andrew Stanton