What makes a good Story? - Design Your Thinking

What makes a good Story?

what makes a good storyA story is a set of events that are laid out over a timeline across certain locations, where a set of characters interact with each other and undergo changes in emotions. A story is used to relate a theme, convey a meaning or a moral or message. In our context, we use the words story and narrative interchangeably. A story is a good story based on how well it conveys the intended meaning, moral or message.

Three Axis of a Good Story

The three axial elements of a good story are the ones that a story cannot exist without.

  1. Character
  2. Place
  3. Time
Elements of a Good Story

While a good story are made up of the above three axial elements, there are other key elements that a good story must leverage to convey the intended meaning, moral or message.

  1. Goal
  2. Title
  3. Plot
  4. Sensory Elements
  5. Emotions

Lets now take a look at each of these elements in a little detail.


Characters are key to good stories. Characters can be humans, animals or animated objects that interact by speaking and moving. Characters can have legacies, behaviors, think and make decisions that, combined with the other elements, effectively help with the narrative. If the story involves a storyteller, the storyteller typically gets into playing the role of one or more characters in the story in the act of storytelling. In many ways, the appearance and actions of the storyteller itself adds to the character.


Place is used to lay out the setting for a visual scenario. Place can be a geographic location or an imaginative or mythical location. Place is a representation of space, and is a key aspect of a good story as it helps effectively relate the character and the timeline.


Time is one of the key elements of a story. The timeline represents a period in time when a series of events takes place. Time can be continuous or can jump between chunks (like a flashback or a projection of future).


Goal is a key aspect of a good story as it is what gives a reason for  the story to exist. A goal can be a theme, convey a meaning, moral or a message. For example, a social campaign can have a theme (say, water conservation).


The title of a story is summarizes the goal in one line so that people can easily tag and recollect the story. Good titles are catchy, meaningful and relevant to the story.


The plot is another key element of a story. It basically distills the goal along with the characters, place and timeline to represent the storyline.

According to psychologists, the brain processes stories as event chunks, and the processes of chunking is termed as event structure perception. These chunks start and end with event boundaries. The storyline and narrative is key to how it helps the brain break the story into chunks.

Sensory Elements

Sensory elements are used to relate to the five senses – sound, smell, taste and feel. Flavors, colors and textures play a key role in keeping the senses aligned to the narrative.


Emotions play a key role in good stories. If narrated, the narrator’s pitch, tone, body language, attitude, point of view are used to bring out the emotions.

  • […] From going through the design process and the thinking like an investor, you have all the data about the problem, market, monetization model, costs and revenues. Your audience is not going to able to appreciate the data or your thinking if you do not tell them a story. That’s correct – you have to be able to narrate a story that persuades your audience to take action. Read more about what makes a good story. […]

  • >