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Learn the art of storytelling: 4 Essential Guides to Telling Any Story

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People all around the world have been telling stories for a long time. That’s because storytelling – when it’s done right – is something that everyone can connect with, no matter who they are or where they’re from.

Stories go one step further than simply presenting hard facts or data. They spark our imagination and emotions.

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Learning how to tell a good story can be helpful in lots of different contexts. From mapping out all of the events that'll unfold in your narrative to fleshing out character development, you can master storytelling to write the next smash hit screenplay or book. Or you might just want to pick up a few tricks to help with cooking up a 30-second advert, or a short talk for a company meeting.

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We’ve written a few posts that explain different parts of the storytelling process. In this piece, we’ll give you a brief introduction to all of them – so you can start work on your masterpiece.

Figure out your story elements

Apollo's entrance on YouTube

First things first, you need to work out what’s going in your story. This means defining the main characters, conflict, plot, setting, and theme. Each of these elements has a vital part to play, but the most important thing is how all the elements interact. If you change one story element, you’ve changed the whole story.

The 5 key story elements

Use a three-act narrative arc to structure your story

Writing the meat of any great story is always tough. But, if you follow some simple tips from our pal Aristotle, developing your storytelling structure is easy. The Greek maverick came up with a rock-solid guide for narrative structure back in the fourth century, way before anyone had ever won an Oscar or penned a New York Times bestseller. He said that the perfect story structure is a three-act affair: setup and rising action, conflict, climax. The first act introduces all your main characters. An inciting incident in the main character's arc leads them on 'the hero's journey,' which takes them through the second act of your story, resulting in the climax and ending in a denouement which ties up all your story's loose ends. Simple, right?

Story structure in three acts

Tell your story

You’ve got all your story ingredients and you’ve laid out the plot points, the character arc, and the series of events that make up its structure. Spiffy! Now, you just need to write the thing. But before you put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard), there are a few things you need to do. Namely: conduct research, figure out how to inspire people, know your audience, then edit. Repeatedly.

How to tell a story

Think about an epilogue

An epilogue is a nifty device that acts as an additional – but separate – part of your story. This part is also referred to as a "denouement," which comprises a series of falling actions that help tie up any loose ends and convey what happens to certain characters. Your story doesn’t necessarily need one, but it’s a useful thing to consider when you’re approaching the end of your storytelling journey. Just ask J. K. Rowling, who popped one in at the end of the Harry Potter series. Or Stranger Things creators, the Duffer Brothers. They freaking love an epilogue.

What is an epilogue?

Write the ending

After months of slaving away at your desk, it all comes down to this. The final flourish. The pièce de résistance. This is what your audience will think about as they drift out of the cinema and back into the world. It’ll be their lasting impression of your story. So, obviously, it’s pretty important to get it right. There are six basic story endings: resolved, unresolved, ambiguous, unexpected, tied, and expanded. And it’s definitely worth exploring all of them before you decide how to wrap up your story.

6 ways to end a story

We can help you tell your story

Creative writing can help you turn the hero's journey into a new and compelling work of art. And with the right tools, you can find new and easy ways to put it all together. Boords is an easy-to-use, all-in-one interactive storyboarding tool that gives you everything you need to bring your story to life. Whether you're gearing up to write a short film, a Hollywood blockbuster, or the next great novel, our secure, online storyboaring software can help you go from idea to storyboard in seconds. Explore 40+ free templates and discover why over 150,000 creatives are already using Boords.

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Our secure cloud-based software helps you quickly create storyboards and animatics, gather client feedback, then move seamlessly into production.