Saturday, December 09, 2006

Elements of Good Story, Part 1

This series of posts has been a long time coming, I know. So sorry for the delay!

When I wrote about “Good Story” a while back, I asked for input about the things you like in a story, as well as promising to give my thoughts. I’ve come up with a list of twelve things that I feel are necessary to a good story. Certainly, not every story has all these characteristics—I have yet to find the ideal story—but my favorites embody many of them.

So, on to the list:

A framework of a Biblical worldview

The good guys win and the bad guys get what they deserve. Tragedy isn’t the end of the story, except for the lost. I want none of this raw “realism” with its continual struggle and death. The philosophy of the “survival of the fittest” is pure fantasy. In life’s story, the Christian looks forward to the happy ending.

Believable characters

I need to be able to identify with at least some of the protagonists in a story. In some way, the author must convince me that within the pages of Story-world, his characters are alive. I don’t want cut and dried stereotypes or people who have life down pat.

Characters who grow

Characters who don’t grow might as well be dead. Life isn’t static, and stories shouldn’t be either. I want to see characters that struggle, persevere, and overcome, because then I am inspired to do so as well.

Examples: They Loved to Laugh by Kathryn Worth, Brave Interval by Elizabeth Yates.

Applicability without preaching

I can only stomach so much of “and the moral of this is…” I applaud the author who realizes that most readers are possessed of a brain! However, there are some instances when the spelling out of a moral can be appropriate. The fable and fairy tale come to mind.

Agree or disagree? Have something to add?
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