Sunday, November 21, 2010

Discussion Topic: What makes a good story?


How's everyone enjoying their thanksgiving week? So today I will be revealing the first discussion topic, with a guest writer as well. Her name is Ania, one of the two finalist of my latest contest. ;) She will be writing on the topic, What makes a good story. Afterwards, Alex will provide a more abstract view, while I give my take. So without further ado, here's her point of view.

What makes a good story? Is it the characters? The story? The message? Many factors contribute to a story. The setting, plot, and characters are simply the basics. Vocabulary, the idea of the story, the message (is it a warning or an encouragement?) and many other things impact a story greatly, yet little credit is given to these factors. There are the technical contributions such as grammar and the creative like the plot. Each can drive a reader away if a story has too much or too little. I’ve known people to put down a book for the sake of grammar issues they had with the book and I’ve had personal experience with not reading something because the vocabulary was lacking. However, I’ve stuck through a book’s multitude of problems for the sake of the creativity of it.

So what makes a story great for you? Are you big on grammar? Realism? Creativity? Theories? What is the driving force that makes you pick up or put down a book?

If you ask me, the plot makes or breaks the book.

Without a driving, interesting, forward moving plot, what is a book? Can you even say it has a story? What are you immersing the readers in if all you write is words about some random person’s everyday doings? A plot requires a crucial moment, something that drastically changes something. Whether it’s the person’s life or the world, a plot needs that to be called a plot and a story needs a plot. Nobody wants to read about a mother who takes her kids to school, then cleans the house, has a nice conversation with the mail-man, then picks the kids up and then the next day the same thing happens again. If nothing changes by the end of the book, it might as well not have been written.

Plots are also creative. They show the author’s ability to think, create, and decide. They have to decide what to show and what to say. Is an even important enough, does it move the story along enough, to be shown in full detail and as it happens? Or is only important enough to get a passing mention by a side character? This causes the author to decide. The author creates when they come up with the plot. Good authors (in my opinion) come up with new and adventurous plots. Something out of the ordinary.

Plots really showcase an author’s talent, and that is why it makes or breaks a book. Grammar can be corrected, spelling can be fixed, vocabulary can be updated, and realism can be debated (after all what is real?), but a plot, a good plot, can make a book shine past all those issues.

Alex's Take: “What makes a good story?” That is probably the most difficult question asked of me all week. A good story is simply…..Indescribable….

A good story has a plot line that exceeds the superficial shallowness of those without imagination. It achieves the depths of the philosophers who give their lives to obtain the type of knowledge that brings life into question. Soon after entering those depths, the story causes the reader to wallow in the complexity of the implicit plot below the plot. If a story is truly good, even the critics have to stop and say “holy shit…we can’t bash this too harshly, can we?” while the universe simply answered back with, “HAHA…you’re fucked…”

What makes a good story?The truth is that a good story is never “made”—and, yes, I mean that quite figuratively. A good story simply “exists” in the mind of the first to conceptualize it, the first person who is able to look behind society’s idiotic norms and search for the truth that society tries desperately to ignore.

“What makes a good story?” Okay, seriously, this question has been asked three times in half a page. Wouldn’t a more fitting question be: “Who will be the first to find the truth?”

My Take: I like tthe point you make Ania, and I feel the plot can make or break a story. However, I feel the characters decide whether or the story will keep anyone interested. For example, why is it that Batman is more beloved then Superman? Because readers can connect with Batman. You don't have the overpowered, unbeatable hero, but a dark and completely human man attempting to live through the pain of the world. His enemies are just as memorable as he is, from scarecrow to the ever lovable Joker. A plot decides a stories potential, it's audience, however the characters make it come alive. Characters catch the readers attention, they are what everyone talks about in the end. Every now and then you will speak about the plot, the theme, but the characters are what you remember.
So tell me, what do you guys think? The topic will be up all week, so post your answers under comments and on facebook on the official page.



1 comment:

Aashna said...

Chk my book:

All sorts of opinions welcome.