1. Discipline. Good storytellers don’t just know what they need to do to get from the beginning of their story to the end. They don’t just know how to do it. They actually do it, whatever it takes.
2. The ability to be your own cheerleader. You need to learn how to keep pushing yourself through the hardest parts of your work, because there won’t always be someone around to do it for you.
3. A goal-oriented mindset. You’re able to make slow progress toward a theoretical finish line even if that progression isn’t always linear or easy to track.
4. Empathy. If you emotionally disconnect yourself from other people, you’re never going to be able to write relatable, captivating characters.
5. An open mind. If you’re going to write a story a massive amount of people can relate to, it needs to include viewpoints in addition to yours; different perspectives, often beliefs you may not agree with personally.
6. The ability to take constructive criticism seriously, but not personally. A desire to improve and enhance your work using the advice of others, because you aren’t always the best judge of how your story could be better.
7. A willingness to swallow your pride and admit you’re stuck or struggling, or to ask for help when you need it. You’re inside your story day after day. Someone who isn’t might see things more clearly than you can.
8. Patience. Instant gratification is not a reward writers can rely on. Good storytellers understand suspense better than anyone because, honestly, they spent a lot of time waiting. A lot. Of time. (:
9. Resilience. You’ll get knocked down a thousand times trying to bring your story to life and get it to a point where you can set it free. It’s the ones who can get back up and keep going that find the success they’ve always dreamed of.
10. True love and passion not only for stories themselves, but the power they have to transform people and the world. The deeper your appreciation for stories, the more effort you’ll put into telling great ones.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is an editor and writer, and a 12-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food, and Star Wars.
One thought on “10 Key Characteristics of Good Storytellers”
I wrote for months always wondering how the story was going to end. In some ways it was my own curiosity that kept me writing. It had to make sense to me. It had to be an ending that satisfied and uplifted me. But I was completely averse to a Disney princess happily ever after ending. Finding the right ending of a story after a five month adventure felt amazing.