How to Write a Great Story (And Know It’s Great)

    write a great story - fairytale

    You want to write a great story within 24 hours, right?

    Of course, but how do you know it’s a great story?

    Skill?Luck? Guesswork?

    The answer is simple, if radical: Ditch the Traditional Approach.

    Let’s not beat around the bush.

    The traditional way of quantifying a ‘great’ story sucks.

    Usually, it involves a bunch of esoteric buzzwords that sound impressive and mean precisely nothing. You’re told a good story is, “Unique and compelling,” that it, “Grabs your attention from the get-go and engrosses you throughout.”

    Right. If it was that simple, everyone would be doing it.

    Because here’s the thing. “Great” isn’t a quantifiable measure. It’s just too subjective. You might think your book is great—that it’s unique and compelling and the greatest thing since apple pie—but if no one agrees with you, you’re not going to get very far with it.

    That’s why you need to measure things differently.

    Try the “Hey, This Actually Works” Way

    I stumbled across a different way of measuring things entirely by accident.

    By working as a copywriter.

    Because while classifying good fiction might be vague and confusing, the qualities of good copywriting are very, very quantifiable.

    Good copywriting persuades your reader to take the desired action.

    It’s that simple. In copywriting, you’re not here to create art. You’re not here to tell a story.

    You’re here to convince the reader to do something.

    Every decision you make is built around a simple question: will this be more or less appealing to my reader?

    Will it get them to say yes?

    And because your reader is a real person—a person you can interact with and research—the answer is real, too.

    And you can use this exact approach in fiction writing.

    How It Works

    Take a look at this post. It explains the essence of good copy in length (and is seriously worth a read), but what it boils down to is this: understand what your readers want and address those wants.

    In other words:

    Find your reader, know your reader, seduce your reader.

    So do the same thing for fiction writing.

    Forget esoteric questions like if your story has artistic merit. All you need to know is if your readers will want to read it. Will it entertain them? Is it what they’re looking for?

    And if you don’t know, ask. Ask your friends. Ask on sites like Quora or Reddit. Ask the subscribers to your blog.

    And this approach isn’t limited to the big questions, like if your story is worth writing.

    You can use the reader-focused copywriting approach to influence every aspect of your writing.

    For example:

    • Use short, punchy descriptions that are easy to follow.
    • Break up those page-long paragraphs into ones that are easy to read.
    • View every page as a sales pitch. You need to give them a reason to turn to the next one.
    • Be clear. No one will read your work if they don’t get what it means.
    • Be economical with your words. If you can say the same thing with less words, do so.

    In short, whenever you’re facing a decision, ask yourself which way is more likely to get read.

    The Caveat

    But this tactic has limits.

    Copywriting isn’t fiction.

    There’s a rule in fiction: show, don’t tell. As it explains in this post, fiction is meant to engross the reader. You need to show the scene; you have to make your characters real and believable.

    In copywriting, you tell. It’s a sales pitch. You have something to say, you say it, and you’re done.

    So while this approach can help guide your fiction, you have to think like a fiction writer, too. In copywriting, you’re asking how to make your message appealing to your reader.

    In fiction, you’re asking how to make your story appealing to a reader.


    In short:

    More often than not, the traditional way of classifying good fiction leaves writers struggling without even knowing why. They know their work needs to improve, but they don’t know how to make it better.

    The solution is to think about it differently.

    Stop thinking of your story as art—or, more accurately, stop only thinking of your story as art.

    Start thinking of it as a product you’re selling to a reader.

    What’s a great story?

    A story readers want to read.


    About the author

      Eli Landes

      Eli Landes is the founder of writing blog RE: Writing. A marketing writer by day and a fiction writer whenever he can squeeze in the time, he spends his spare time working on his novel, writing short fiction, or daydreaming (I mean, researching). His main genre is Jewish fiction, but he's been known to dabble in the weird, the absurd, and the truly dark.

    • Nice Post
      Thanks for sharing

    • taurus says:

      Thanks for Great post, useful information.

    • sandhya says:

      great words!! thanks for sharing valuable tips. In my view, a great story means which makes us feel.

    • jack says:

      Thank you for sharing. I’m fascinated with your website.
      I am going to publish this to my facebook wall.

    • Renu says:

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      Thanks for sharing this post.
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    • jack says:

      Thanks for sharing this precious information. I hope this will help me.

    • jack says:

      Thank you for sharing. I’m fascinated with your website.

      • Eli Landes says:

        Thank you, Jack. I appreciate that.

    • mohd jabir says:

      Superb article I am read this post and very useful information on This post thank You so much.

      • Eli Landes says:

        Thank you, Mohd. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

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    • Anishad says:

      Great post and i love to write stories and also blog, so writing is a best skill

    • wtc noida says:

      Nice Information
      Thank you For sharing knowledge.

      • Eli Landes says:


    • I’m not that much of an online reader to be honest but your blogs really nice, keep it up! I’ll go ahead and bookmark your website to come back later. All the best

      • Eli Landes says:

        Thank you, Nikita. I appreciate that.

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    • Good Information
      Thankyou For sharing.

      • Eli Landes says:

        Thank you!

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    • Good content! great story?it is most probably based on Skills?Luck? Guesswork? these three thing must required in success of any story.

    • Now i understand why moves are not reality, it is all about character building and fictions. well done keep it up.

    • Larry Urish says:

      There’s a reason most movie sequels don’t live up to the originals: Movies are stories, and stories are all about character development — specifically, creating an empathetic bond. The best plot of all time won’t work for the viewers if they don’t care about the key players in the story.

      So Rocky IV may be good, but it can never hold a candle to Rocky, because in the latter, we get to meet the boxer for the first time. No character = no story.

      • Eli Landes says:

        Hi Larry,

        I think that’s true to an extend. A character in a sequel needs to be handled differently than in the first movie. They should have character development–just different to the development seen in the first movie.

    • lisa james says:

      Thanks a lot.

      Being essay writer at its very help-full for me to write a good story

      • Eli Landes says:

        Thanks Lisa! I’m glad it helped.

    • […] post How to Write a Great Story (And Know It’s Great) appeared first on […]

    • Nice Information
      Thankyou For sharing With this.

      • Eli says:

        Thanks, Karsoo.

    • Suhana says:

      Hi Eli Landes
      Nice Article and very useful information asI completed my Digital Marketing training at Digital Way Soft in Hyderabad
      Do keep posting these kinds of articles.

      • Eli says:

        Thank you, Suhana!

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