The Essential Qualities of a Good Story


essential qualities of a good story

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 as how these events impact the characters’ 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?

  1. Avatar of Starr Gardinier
    Starr Gardinier says

    Completely agree. If the reader can’t get into the story because of too many errors or the flow isn’t there, then the reader isn’t transported to another world other than their own. To me at least, that would mean as an author I have failed my reader.

  2. Avatar of Joyce+White
    Joyce+White says

    Pat, I personally don’t like too many characters. It confuses me. I hate trying to read something that has different dialects.
    I do like the way you write. It is clear, informative and somewhat entertaining.

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