The PR BlogCreativityStorytelling & Writing10 Storytelling Elements (Found in Almost All Great Stories)

10 Storytelling Elements (Found in Almost All Great Stories)

Learn the basic elements of Hollywood-style storytelling.

Cover photo: @jerrysilfwer

What are the typ­ic­al storytelling elements?

In storytelling, some things work — again and again. 

As a PR pro­fes­sion­al since 2005, I find the study of dra­mat­ic com­pos­i­tion fascinating.

I’ve dis­tilled some of the most widely used storytelling ele­ments from the basic “Hollywood-style” format into one infographic.

Here we go:

Infographic: Storytelling Elements

Dramaturgy is the study of dra­mat­ic com­pos­i­tion and the rep­res­ent­a­tion of the main ele­ments of drama on the stage.”
— Wikipedia 1Dramaturgy. (2023, April 2). In Wikipedia. https://​en​.wiki​pe​dia​.org/​w​i​k​i​/​D​r​a​m​a​t​u​rgy

Some storytelling ele­ments keep com­ing back in both old and new stor­ies. No need to fix it if it ain’t broken, right? Now, here they all are, col­lec­ted in one infographic.

The magic­al ingredi­ents found in almost all great stories:

10 Storytelling Elements

Here are some of the most widely used storytelling ele­ments (in chro­no­lo­gic­al order):

1. The Contract

In the very begin­ning, you have to make a prom­ise. Will this be viol­ent? Scary? Fun? Tense? Dramatic?

2. The Pull

Provide con­text to pull the audi­ence into your story.

3. The Incident

The event sets everything in motion. It should occur early and keep the story mov­ing forward.

4. The Reveal

Allow your char­ac­ters to learn what the story is about — and what’s at stake.

5. Point of No Return

The forces of good face an impossible decision that con­cerns fear, safety, love, hate, revenge, or despair.

6. Anti-Climax

Sorry, but you must allow the forces of evil to have an epic win.

7. All-is-Lost Moment

The moment where all is lost. It would help if you por­trayed the most pro­found des­pair for the forces of good.

8. News of Hope

A pos­sib­il­ity for a side char­ac­ter to shine. A light that shines into the total dark­ness of the moment.

9. The Climax

The shit hits the fan, and the good puts everything at risk but over­comes — des­pite impossible odds.

10. The Pay-Off

Public dis­plays of relief and hap­pi­ness, love, and for­give­ness. We also learn that the hero has evolved.

Update: Want to see these storytelling ele­ments applied to an actu­al story? Read also Storytelling Elements in Star Wars: A New Hope.

Please sup­port my blog by shar­ing it with oth­er PR- and com­mu­nic­a­tion pro­fes­sion­als. For ques­tions or PR sup­port, con­tact me via jerry@​spinfactory.​com.

Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer, alias Doctor Spin, is an awarded senior adviser specialising in public relations and digital strategy. Currently CEO at KIX Index and Spin Factory. Before that, he worked at Kaufmann, Whispr Group, Springtime PR, and Spotlight PR. Based in Stockholm, Sweden.

The Cover Photo


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