The Essential Qualities of a Good Story
What, in your opinion, are the essential qualities of a good story?
The essential quality of a good story is the ability to take readers somewhere else and make them glad they went. It’s also essential to make the writing easy to read, which means the writing must be grammatically correct.
Nothing takes an experienced reader out of a story faster than having to decipher convoluted sentences with improper punctuation.
Ideally, a story should leave readers a bit better off than they were before, either because of what they learned about the world and themselves or because of the respite from their everyday lives.
Here are some responses from other authors about the essential qualities of a good story. The comments are taken from interviews posted at Pat Bertram Introduces . . .
From an interview with J J Dare, Author of False Positive and False World
The hook is the essential part of a story; with a good hook, the reader won’t want to put a book down. I try to draw the reader in immediately with a one-two punch.
From an interview with Mickey Hoffman, author of School of Lies
I want the main characters to have a “quest.” The quest can be a real journey or one in their heads, and if there’s a mystery involved, all the better.
From an interview with Michael Murphy, author of Scorpion Bay
In my opinion, a good story has conflict throughout and characters the reader will care about. I don’t believe the story; what happens to the characters is nearly as important has how these events impact the character’s lives, how they’ve evolved and grown, or in some instances, how they’ve stuck to their principles and not changed by events in the story. An example of this type of story would be the movie High Noon.
From an interview with John Grover, Author of “Feminine Wiles”
A good story is about style. The writing style makes it unique. And secondly, to make the reader care about your characters. Without empathy for your characters, readers won’t care what happens to them. Once they care, you can really rev things up. I think it is all about how you tell the story and how the characters come to life. Write about what you know, add in touches from your life, and real people, and it will come to life.
So, what, in your opinion, are the essential qualities of a good story?