How to Write a Compelling Story

Today’s guest is Elaine Faber, an author of two series . In the Black Cat series, (as you might guess) a cat is a central figure.  The second series is a historical series set during the time of World War II.  She lives in Elk Grove, CA, and is a member of Sisters in Crime, NCPA, and the Cat Writer’s Association.  Here’s her take on writing a compelling story. Elaine will give a free digital book to one of those leaving a comment, chosen at random.

The Plot

A great novel jumps off on page one with a hook that keeps the reader turning pages. Is it about a lost puppy, a hard-boiled CIA agent, bringing a killer to justice, or a romance with the boy next door? A good plot sucks you in and takes you willingly along an adventure. During the journey, you laugh or cry, are scared or surprised, along with the hero. At the end, you wish the story wouldn’t end and you look for the sequel so you can spend more time with the characters.

Creating Conflict

A good story must have conflict. If the CIA agent catches the villain on page one, where is the adventure? If the girl’s boyfriend breaks her heart, where is the romance? If some isn’t looking for a lost puppy, he’s just a puppy.

Supporting Characters

Besides the intriguing main characters, a good story has interesting supporting characters. They are the friends, relatives, or even the protagonist’s pets. They provide the main character someone to interact with. Often they lead to the conflict or help bring about the solution.


A good book has an exciting beginning, a compelling middle, and a satisfying end. The beginning jumps out with an event that convinces the reader to travel this journey with the main character. A mystery to solve, a romantic conflict or a specific goal must be revealed within the first few pages to keep the reader’s interest.

The middle is the crux of the story, where the character struggles to overcome the obstacles, but events go from bad to worse, and when all seems lost, we come to the end. The reader leaves laundry in the dryer and dishes in the sink to see what happens next.

The ending must tie up all the loose strings, solve all the puzzles and reach a conclusion that is acceptable to the reader. Did you ever read a 300 page novel and the main character dies on the last page. You want to heave the book against the wall!

And the Satisfying Conclusion

In a satisfying conclusion, the hero gets the girl, the killer is revealed, the interplanetary six-headed monster is vanquished, or the puppy finds a new home. A satisfying ending leaves the reader wanting to spend more time with the characters. The author’s challenge is to create stories that satisfy the reader and keep him wanting to buy the sequel.

The Book Cover

At last the book moves through publication and to the store. A potential buyer sees the snappy, good looking, brightly colored cover with an easily read title and intriguing picture or graphic that suggests the story line. The appealing cover tempts the potential buyer to turn over the book to read the plot summary on the back that compels him to buy the book. Mission accomplished.

That’s all there is to writing a best seller. Easy-peasy, right? Now, check out one of my books listed below to see if I did it right.  All available on Amazon. One of those leaving a comment will be selected to receive a free digital copy of one of Elaine’s books.

Black Cat’s Legacy A tale of intrigue and murder with a touch of whimsy

Black Cat and the Lethal Lawyer A tale of betrayal and greed with a splash of fantasy

Black Cat and the Accidental Angel A tale of memories lost and love found with a touch of the devine

Mrs. Odboddy – Hometown Patriot, a WWII tale of chicks and chicanery, suspicion and spies

Mrs. Odboddy – Undercover Courier, a WWII tale of mystery, mischief and mishaps (email)   (Website)

7 thoughts on “How to Write a Compelling Story

  1. Creating interesting conflict in a story is a challenge for me. I like harmony. Your animal characters are so precious! I can’t imagine creating animal thoughts and conflicts. You do an amazing job of that.

  2. Great ideas and clear indicators to writing a “compelling series” with characters.I love that you create suspense and humor…it is a gift Elaine, all writer’s do not have!

    • Thanks for the compliment, but I think every writer has their own ‘gifts’. You certainly have gifts I don’t have with your ability to write devotions based on the simplest things your puppies do. Each writer offers a bit of something different and special, all God-given gifts we each have to share.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *