Read Time: 3 minutes

Want to create stories that keep audiences up at night?

Well, you’ll need every trick you can muster.

Get ahead of the pack by applying these bite-sized tips when developing your work-in-progress:

1. Adore Your Story

Either love your plot and characters all the way—or leave them. Because the story that always fills your heart is the one that will actually get finished.

2. Create Curiosity

Give audiences just enough to always want more. If people aren’t wondering what happens next, you’ve shown too much.

3. Build Deep and Dark Backstories

Develop a hero full of dark truths, mistakes, and flaws. Give your villain a moral compass and an empathetic history.

Perfectly good or evil characters are unrealistic. So you must create remarkable roles to avoid tropes and compel people to believe in your make-believe.

4. Respect Story Structure

Embrace the timeless storytelling frameworks that people want and expect. You can still write by the seat of your pants, but pacing should be balanced during the editing process.

5. Embrace Conflict

Conflict is the driving force of a narrative. Characters need both emotional and physical opposition to generate the necessary tension that propels them forward and keeps the audience engaged.

6. Plant Seeds Early (Foreshadowing)

This technique rewards your audience for paying attention and adds layers of complexity to your story, making the ending more satisfying.

7. Diversify Your Dynamics

Relationships should evolve. Friendships fray, enemies reconcile.

Keep character dynamics fluid and evolving to reflect the unpredictable nature of relationships.

8. End with Impact

The ending is what most audiences will remember.

Force your protagonist to make an impossible choice at the climax that will leave audiences debating what they would do in their shoes.

Develop Your Story with AI:

Now it’s time to use ChatGPT or your favorite chatbot to improve your narrative.

ChatGPT Prompt:

// edit bold text in [brackets] //

Imagine you are a master storyteller with 20 years of experience developing stories into compelling narratives that keep audiences engaged from start to finish.

Using a genre of [Insert Genre Here]

and a central story idea of [Insert Story Idea or Summary Here],

And these character(s) [Insert Character details including role(s) such as protagonist and/or antagonist]

Let’s dissect improve the story all around.

Perform a detailed analysis, offering extremely critical feedback, for this story using these eight vital aspects:

• What about the plot and characters do you find most compelling, and why might they resonate deeply with an audience? What areas could be improved to be more compelling?

• Where could we introduce mystery and unanswered questions to keep the audience engrossed?

• How can the hero’s and villain’s pasts be woven to add complexity and realism to their characters?

• What milestone plot events will structure the narrative and how can they be paced for maximum impact?

• What are the main conflicts the protagonist will encounter, and how will these struggles propel the story forward?

• Can you identify moments for subtle seeds to foreshadow that will pay off later in the story?

• How could the relationships between characters evolve throughout the story?

• What critical decision and impossible choice could the protagonist face at the climax that will leave a lasting impression on the audience?

Feel free to be as detailed as possible. Remember to keep your feedback directly tied to the genre, central story idea and character details. Your insights will not only deepen the characters but can also significantly elevate the entire narrative.

That’s it for this Saturday.

If you’re finding value in TSS, please share it with a fellow storyteller.

See ya next week!

— Dave