Good Stories—Day 5


Ah, good old Friday the thirteenth. Now there’s a date to set a mood, especially in October. How did the 13th superstition get started, anyway?

Days like this make me thankful that Christ freed me from the tyranny of such fears. If you’ve ever lived in a culture that looks at such things seriously, you know how oppressive it can become.

Still, makes for good writing fodder. 😉

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I found it interesting that both Katie and Nicole, in their comments about what makes books memorable, mentioned aspects of characterization.

Though I too am convinced that engaging characters—ones that are sympathetic, that have character qualities we admire, or who want something we can identify with—are necessary, I remain convinced that story trumps all.

The thing is, these characters we love make the story. The characters do not operate in a vacuum, mind you. Painting wonderful characters is not enough. But having wonderful characters in the center of a storm makes for a good story.

The characters make the reader care about the conflict and its ramifications, and interesting, unique, unexpected, tense circumstances swirling around those characters make the story memorable.

So that brings me to additional elements that I believe contribute to a good story.

Characters in motion. Characters who don’t have to say what they believe. Rather they act out their beliefs.

Theme that is significant, if not profound. A memorable story deals with universals, but not in a surface way.

Varied conflict. Sometimes intense, sometimes mild. Focused internally for a time, then externally. But always present.

I’d like to look at these elements in a bit more detail next week. If there are any particular elements I’ve overlooked, please point them out and I’ll do some digging so we can learn together.

Published in: on October 13, 2006 at 5:00 am  Comments (4)  
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