Eric Wetlaufer – The Keys to Great Storytelling

posted by Chris Valentine

If you want to become a wonderful storywriter either as a career, a hobby as a blog or even just as something to do in your spare time then it is important that you understand the key hallmarks of a great story. My buddy Eric Westlaufer from back in Wesson is a journalist and as long as I have known him he has been able to formulate the most incredible stories. Having seen the way that Eric puts together his stories I wanted to share with you some of the keys to great storytelling which he uses in all of his work.


The first thing that you need to think about before putting pen to paper is what you are trying to achieve through your story. Think about whether you are looking to teach something, shock someone, create something surprising, tell a tale of woe or perhaps even offer a reflection on reality. Before the story starts, you have to know what you are trying to achieve.


Try to vary your themes as much as possible, both within a story and as you write more stories. Eric has written stories about everything imaginable from women with fidelity issues to alien CEOs at the head of companies and everything in-between. Sticking to one common theme can certainly help you later down the line but whilst you are just starting out, try out as many different themes as possible.


If you are writing pure fiction then of course you can make up every aspect of the story but in most cases you need to have some accuracies in there that make things believable. It is pointless writing about a company if you don’t understand how they work, the same goes for writing about legal cases, if you have no idea how they work then either research it or don’t bother. The last thing that you want is for someone to have declined to continue reading your stories because they aren’t believable.

Character Over Plot

Don’t ever forget the importance of the characters in your story as these are what drives the plot, not the other way around. You may have an idea for where your story is heading but you should really look to develop the characters as much as you possibly can, create a history for them, character traits and attributes that they have as well as weakness and mistakes that they may make. With regards to the characters you should also try to get a little creative with their names, calling your lead man Dave or Frank may not be the best idea, as it does show a lack of thought. Try the trick that Shakespeare used to use, whereby he would use names for characters that sounded like a word that could be used to describe them, Mercutio for example sounds mercurial, which is exactly what the character was like.

Try out these tips and just keep practicing, you will be telling your stories in no time at all!

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