August 1, 2008

What Makes a Good Story

Every good story has a beginning, middle and end, but what makes a good story? Is it three-dimensional characters that come to life on a page, compelling conflict, or a well thought out plotline that keeps you guessing until the last page?

As mentioned before, I like a character-driven story, and in the books I've written, the setting becomes a character of sorts, to where it's almost as important as the protagonists. With this characterization, I like to add a poetic voice to help the imagery "sing" on the page and make a good story even better.


Of course, each chapter and even perhaps each scene should end in conflict to keep the reader turning pages. I've been told to think of it this way--conflict can be described as putting your character in a position where something bad will happen, and then make it even worse for him. How do you keep from having a "sagging middle"--you know when the story seems to tra-la-la-along? The answer again is Conflict.


Now, how do you end your manuscript so the reader will close the book with a contented sigh? Be sure to close all plotlines. Don't leave a reader hanging, and if at all possible, give the audience a fresh, unexpected ending that is believable.


So, to me, this is what equals a good story -- characters a reader can love (or hate), a poetic voice and imagery, ongoing and believable conflict, and a unique plotline. 

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