5 Essential Elements of a Story's Exterior Narrative for Compelling Writing
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 6 min read


1. Setting the Scene

2. Character Development

3. Conflict and Tension

4. Pacing and Structure

5. Resolution and Conclusion

A story's exterior narrative is the backbone that supports and brings together all the elements of a compelling story. In this blog post, we will explore five essential elements of a story's exterior narrative that can help you create captivating writing that keeps your readers hooked.

1. Setting the Scene

Setting the scene is a vital part of any story, as it establishes the world your characters inhabit and helps to immerse the reader in your story. There are two key aspects to setting the scene: choosing the right location and immersing the reader in the environment.

Choosing the Right Location

When selecting a setting for your story, consider the following:

  • Pick a location that complements your story's theme and tone.
  • Ensure the setting is believable and authentic.
  • Consider the time period and how it will affect your characters and the events that unfold.

Remember, a story's exterior narrative is the framework for your story, so make sure the setting is well thought out and contributes to the overall narrative.

Immersing the Reader in the Environment

To truly immerse your reader in the world you've created, use descriptive language and sensory details to paint a vivid picture of the setting. Here are some tips to help you achieve this:

  • Use all five senses—sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch—to describe the environment.
  • Be specific and avoid generic descriptions.
  • Introduce the setting through your characters' experiences and reactions.
  • Show, don't tell: use action and dialogue to convey the atmosphere of the setting.

By carefully crafting your setting, you'll provide a solid foundation on which to build the rest of your story's exterior narrative.

2. Character Development

Characters are the heart and soul of any story, and their development is a key element of a story's exterior narrative. Well-developed characters draw readers in and make them invested in the outcome of the story. Let's dive into two important aspects of character development: introducing characters and showing growth and change.

Introducing Characters

First impressions matter, and introducing your characters effectively is crucial to engaging your readers. Here are some guidelines to help you introduce your characters:

  • Introduce characters through action and dialogue, rather than just describing them.
  • Reveal your characters' personalities, motivations, and goals early on.
  • Make your characters memorable and distinct by giving them unique traits, quirks, or habits.
  • Limit the number of characters you introduce at once to avoid overwhelming the reader.

Remember, your story's exterior narrative is the framework that connects all elements of the story, so presenting well-rounded and engaging characters is essential.

Showing Growth and Change

In order for your story to be compelling, your characters need to grow and change throughout the narrative. This can be achieved through the following methods:

  • Develop your characters by having them face challenges and obstacles that force them to confront their flaws and fears.
  • Show the consequences of their actions and decisions, both positive and negative.
  • Allow your characters to learn from their experiences and adapt to new situations.
  • Use relationships between characters to highlight growth and change.

By focusing on character development, you'll build a strong foundation for your story's exterior narrative, making it more engaging and relatable for your readers.

3. Conflict and Tension

Conflict and tension are what make a story exciting and keep readers hooked. They are vital components of a story's exterior narrative, driving the plot forward and shaping the characters' development. Let's explore how to create conflict and maintain tension throughout your story.

Creating Conflict

Conflict is the engine that propels your story forward, and it can take many forms. Here are some tips for creating conflict in your narrative:

  • Introduce a clear problem or goal that your main character must overcome or achieve.
  • Create obstacles and challenges that prevent your character from easily achieving their goal.
  • Use different types of conflicts, such as internal (within the character) and external (between characters or against outside forces).
  • Introduce subplots that add layers of complexity and additional sources of conflict.

Remember, a story's exterior narrative is the backbone of your plot, so incorporating conflict is essential to keeping your readers engaged.

Maintaining Tension Throughout the Story

Tension keeps readers on the edge of their seats, wondering what will happen next. Here are some strategies for maintaining tension in your story:

  • Keep raising the stakes by adding new challenges and complications as your character progresses toward their goal.
  • Vary the intensity of the tension, with moments of high suspense followed by brief periods of relative calm, to give your readers a chance to catch their breath.
  • Use pacing, cliffhangers, and plot twists to surprise your readers and keep them guessing.
  • Ensure your characters have strong motivations and are emotionally invested in the outcome of the conflicts, which will make readers care more about the story's resolution.

By mastering the art of conflict and tension, you'll create a story's exterior narrative that is both compelling and unforgettable.

4. Pacing and Structure

Pacing and structure are key elements of a story's exterior narrative, as they determine the overall flow and organization of your story. Let's dive into finding the right pace and structuring your story effectively to keep readers engaged from beginning to end.

Finding the Right Pace

Setting the right pace for your story is crucial to maintaining reader interest. Here are some tips for finding the perfect balance:

  • Match the pace to the genre and intended audience of your story. For example, action-packed thrillers may require a faster pace, while literary fiction might benefit from a slower, more introspective pace.
  • Use sentence length and structure to influence the pace. Shorter sentences and paragraphs convey a faster pace, while longer sentences and paragraphs can slow things down.
  • Consider the balance between dialogue, action, and description. Too much description can slow the pace, while too much action and dialogue may feel rushed.
  • Remember that pacing should vary throughout the story, with moments of high tension and excitement balanced by quieter, more reflective scenes.

By paying attention to pacing, you'll ensure that your story's exterior narrative remains engaging and enjoyable for your readers.

Structuring Your Story

Effective story structure is vital to crafting a cohesive and satisfying narrative. Here are some guidelines to help you structure your story:

  • Follow the classic three-act structure of setup, confrontation, and resolution. This tried-and-true formula has stood the test of time and provides a solid foundation for your story.
  • Consider using alternative structures, such as nonlinear or episodic storytelling, if they better suit your story's needs. Be cautious, though, as unconventional structures can be challenging to execute effectively.
  • Make sure your story has a clear beginning, middle, and end. Each act should have its own distinct arc, with identifiable turning points and climaxes.
  • Ensure that your story's structure supports its themes and character development. The structure should enhance the overall meaning and impact of your narrative, not detract from it.

By focusing on pacing and structure, you'll create a story's exterior narrative that flows smoothly and captivates your readers from start to finish.

5. Resolution and Conclusion

The resolution and conclusion of your story are vital components of a story's exterior narrative, as they provide closure and satisfaction for your readers. Let's explore the importance of resolving conflicts and writing effective conclusions that leave a lasting impression.

Resolving Conflicts

Resolving the conflicts and tensions in your story is essential for a satisfying ending. Here are some tips on how to tie up loose ends:

  • Ensure that the main conflict is resolved in a believable and satisfying way. Avoid using convenient coincidences or sudden character changes to resolve issues, as this can feel contrived.
  • Address any subplots or secondary conflicts, making sure they contribute to the overall resolution and don't leave readers hanging.
  • Consider the consequences of the resolution for your characters. Show how they have grown or changed as a result of their experiences, and how they will move forward.
  • Remember that not every conflict needs a neat and tidy resolution. Ambiguity can be powerful and thought-provoking if used intentionally and sparingly.

By resolving conflicts effectively, you'll create a sense of closure and satisfaction for your readers as they reach the end of your story.

Writing Effective Conclusions

Concluding your story in a meaningful and satisfying way is the final piece of the puzzle in crafting a compelling exterior narrative. Here are some guidelines for writing effective conclusions:

  • Summarize the main themes and lessons of your story, showing how they have been developed and explored throughout the narrative.
  • Consider the emotional impact you want to leave on your readers. Do you want them to feel uplifted, reflective, or challenged? Craft your conclusion with this emotional tone in mind.
  • Avoid introducing new conflicts or subplots in the conclusion, as this can create confusion and frustration for your readers.
  • Consider using a circular narrative structure, where the conclusion mirrors or references the beginning of the story. This can create a sense of cohesion and unity in your narrative.

By crafting a powerful resolution and conclusion, you'll leave a lasting impression on your readers and ensure that your story's exterior narrative is truly memorable.

If you're interested in diving deeper into the world of documentaries, don't miss the workshop 'Treatment Writing For Documentaries' by Reshelshah. This workshop will provide you with valuable knowledge and essential tips on how to write compelling and effective treatments for your documentary projects.