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Keeping your story engaging: the Storycoaster

Keeping your story engaging: the Storycoaster Keeping your story engaging: the Storycoaster
In this article:

    Welcome aboard the Storycoaster! In Story School Season 2, Episode 3, Wattpad Content Expert Harry Hanson talks us through how to keep readers on the edge of their seats with the power of GMCS and the Storycoaster technique.

    What is the Storycoaster?

    The Storycoaster is more than just a narrative structure; it’s the heartbeat of your story. Driven by a character’s goals, motivation, conflict, and stakes (GMCS), it serves as the engine that drives your story forward, or what keeps the action in your story moving. It helps ensure you are captivating readers from the first page to the final chapter.

    The foundation: GMCS

    To craft an engaging story, it’s essential to start with GMCS. The goals, motivation, conflict, and stakes lay the groundwork for your characters’ journey and the overall plot development.

    Consider this example: Sami’s goal, or the thing he wants to achieve, is to date Talia. His motivation for achieving this goal is his desire for love. He becomes entangled in conflict when Talia’s feelings don’t align with his (the obstacle that’s now getting in his way), ultimately raising the stakes for his happiness and their friendship, and leaving us with the question of what will happen when Sami doesn’t achieve his goal. 

    The Storycoaster in action

    Imagine your story as a rollercoaster ride, with its ups, downs, twists, and turns. Each chapter serves as a thrilling segment of this ride, containing a build-up of tension, action, and resolution that leaves readers eager for more. This is what keeps your audience engaged over a whole story. As the Storycoaster gains momentum, conflicts intensify, stakes heighten, and characters are tested in ways they never imagined.

    There are four main parts of the Storycoaster:

    • The rise, before it happens
    • The peak, the moment it happens
    • The plunge, the consequences of it happening
    • The valley, what’s changed?

    As the Storycoaster climbs, tension mounts with each turn of the page. Peaks become more daunting, plunges more heart-wrenching, and characters must confront the consequences of their actions. Take Sami’s journey, for instance: as Talia exits his life, he finds himself thrust into a new city, facing heightened stakes and fresh conflicts that challenge him.

    Along the ride, characters likely experience growth and transformation. They learn about themselves, overcome obstacles, and confront the challenges on the path to achieving their goals. Introducing new characters and obstacles adds layers of complexity to the narrative, driving characters to pursue their goals with newfound determination.

    The thrill of the ride

    In the end, your story is the ultimate thrill ride for your readers. By implementing the Storycoaster technique and GMCS, you’ll create a reading experience that keeps your audience glued to the screen. With each twist and turn, they’re taken on an unforgettable journey filled with excitement, suspense, and emotional resonance.

    Want to learn more about using tension, conflict, and cliffhangers to engage readers? Read our in-depth guide on the Storycoaster or using conflict effectively.

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