Doctor SpinCreativityStorytelling & 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.

These are ten typical storytelling elements.

In storytelling, some things work — again and again.

“Dramaturgy is the study of dramatic composition and the representation of the main elements of drama on the stage.”
Source: Wikipedia

Therefore, I’ve distilled the most popular storytelling elements from the basic “Hollywood-style” format into one infographic.

The Storytelling Elements Infographic

Some storytelling elements keep coming back in all great old and new stories. Now, here they all are, collected in one infographic.

The magical ingredients found in almost all great stories:

The storytelling elements:

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? See Storytelling for Jedi Masters.

Cover photo by Jerry Silfwer (Prints/Instagram)


Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer, aka 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.
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In 1996, Nick Cave submitted a petition to the MTV Video Music Awards demanding the video for his duet with Kylie Minogue be removed.
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