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What makes a good story?

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  • Administrator

Opinions are going to vary here greatly so it'll be interesting to see what you think makes a good story.

Personally, I'm not fussed about the technical details - I don't care about missed commas, run-on sentences and such. If I can read the sentence without getting confused, I'm fine with it. I'm no grammar expert myself so I don't like picking on others for minor errors. I'm also not overly keen on long flowery sentences full of descriptive words - that just makes my head hurt and I become even more confused. 

For me, I'm drawn to stories that are about the characters. I like characters that I myself can relate to which is why I only read stories about human characters. Although I do love animals in real life, I don't feel so engrossed in a written piece of work if it's about animals unless the fandom itself is animal-centred (Ice Age for example in which all the characters are given human-like personalities). (does this make any sense? hopefully) I want to be taken on an adventure full of twists and turns. I don't want to read a story that just follows the canon and does nothing with it. I want to be drawn into that character's world and feel how they feel - that's why dialogue is so important to me. They say actions speak louder than words, but its dialogue that makes a character memorable in my opinion. 

Character development is important too. I want to see how a character gets from A to B and how their thought process changes along the way. If they're in a relationship, there better be a build up to it and not just forced because the author wants them together. I like logic. I often ask myself with my own stories, 'if character does this, why are they doing it?'

Secondly, plot. I grew up on high fantasy stuff like Lord of the Rings and Neverwinter Nights, so this genre plays a huge role in the structure of my stories and what I like to read about. I like stories that are slow and build up over time. I like complex plots. I like multiple twists and turns and overly dramatic scenes. Someone once told me that my works feel like a Bioware story (I find that a big compliment since their games got me into writing). I don't always play by the fandom rules - rather, I go with what makes sense to me.

Anyways, in summary, I like stories that are different. I like the ones that aren't afraid to take risks. I like stories that feature emotionally rich characters that are easily memorable. I like lengthy build ups and plots that move slowly. Grammar and spelling aren't a concern to me. If the characters are interesting, and the plot is strong, chances are, I'm going to be a fan. A fellow friend of mine and a great author said to me, 'Everyone can write a story. But not everyone can tell a story."

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What I like in a story... that's a though one...

To me, the most important thing is the plot in itself. If the course of the story makes sense and all the subplots are resolved in the end, is a good story for me. Of course, character development is important too but in my oponion, it doesn't matter if a character is perfectly writen if the world in which he/she develops is poor and uninteresting.

I love to be surprised, so that's where my taste for interesting plot twists and clever characters comes from.

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For me this is easy. Character and plot development are a MUST. Scenes where nothing happens are ones I try to avoid and don't really like writing/reading/watching in movies. (Yeah I'm not a huge Lord of the Rings fan...SO MUCH WALKING).

To me it's important that a story flows well and at a pace you would expect from plots and themes present. I also like it when there's as little plot holes as possible and everything gets wrapped up at the end.

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1 hour ago, Edgy Edgelord Eric said:

-A deep plot that must also be read in between the lines

-Not-so-obvious but subtly hinted at plot twists

-Character development

-Believable romance

-Logic and no fallacies

-Avoiding cliches

-A dash of humor here and there

-Not too many cliffhangers

-Subtle interconnections

-Diverse range of character types

Agreed. Much more in detail than what I said. Especially in the Logic and no fallacies bit. I always try and make things in my stories "logical" and that they would work "within reason".

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While I love stories that have incredibly intricate, depthy, and thematic plots, that isn't a requirement. 

The characters are what make or break a story for me. If they are 2-D, erratic and nonsensical, stupid, Mary/Gary Sue-ish, or written extremely offensively and with obvious prejudice- but the plot is incredible?  Screw it, won't read it unironically, I'll maybe look up a summary on spark notes.  

In contrast, if the plot is full of gaping holes and illogic that breaks my suspension of disbelief, and the characters are amazing? It's forgivable.

I'll overlook the issues with plot if the story being told (because then it's likely character driven) is good. 

That being said, I prefer both the plot and characters be well done. 

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Another amazing topic, doubtless ^_^ 

An intriguing title first off, then comes a very good plot i.e. what is the idea of the story. Then comes the characters and their descriptions, and using "first person titular character" is also great for a story. Now comes the dialogues, for dialogues I want it to be spontaneous, like a single sudden utterance. But a well planned thought dialogue also does amazing wonders ^^. Next comes the balance, now this is where it gets tricky - most people tend to disrupt the balance of something in a story (the idea, a character, a setting, a dialogue it can be anything) .

Now the technical stuff (typos, grammar) they are on the bottom of the list which of ingredients which make a story good. Because every story has some technical error or issue, hence it is overlooked rather frequently.

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Basically, I think what makes a good story is how it is written. And in order to do that, there are a couple questions that need to be answered.


Is there enough descriptiveness? Is there good transitions? Is anyone portrayed unrealistically for the setting? Do things make sense within the story? Does the story convey the tone needs to convey (e.g. it should not be super serious if it's labeled a humor story)?


If there's intentional any philosophical content or lessons, can the reader see them? Are characters differentiated from each other, and described enough to make the audience care about them? Is there anyone who seems to be too perfect or too powerful? Do actions have consequences? If there is a death, is the death written well enough to make the reader care? Are battles written while, if there are any (e.g. more than “x attacked x” or random blood and gore)?


If there's an argument or something more academic written in, is the argument well supported? Is it aware of any flaws there might be, or any rebuttals that in opponent might use? What counters are there to those opponents? If the argument is in something like a fictional universe, is it necessary to the plot, and if so how?


If a story is fictional based off of anything in real life, are things well researched?


These are just some of the questions someone may need to answer in order to figure out how to make something written well, but knowing these answers and keeping the questions in mind is absolutely vital, and can make the difference between a story that tries to be good, and is not, and the story that is absolutely brilliant.

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  • 3 weeks later...

This is my own personal preference. 

Just an honest story. 

Or even bloody dishonest because it wants you to dig deeper about what you know.

I think it all depends on the author's skill for the execution. 

But well, the kind of books that warped me in were ones that encapsulated what I had to say, what I wanted to say, but didn't have the words for it. 

I guess I like stories that are bold, critical and aren't afraid of being ugly. Something with character? It takes a lot of guts to write a story like that because you know you're putting your work out there to be critiqued. You know you're going to pick a fight. You might as well sharpen your words like weapons. 

Edited by Hiro Granger
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  • 5 years later...
  • Administrator

Coming back to this several years later....

What makes a good story in my eyes?

  • A good mixture of seriousness and humour
  • Clearly identifiable characters. That is, the main characters should have unique personalities - they should not all have the same traits and the like
  • An easy to understand plot. Don't overcomplicate things by adding heaps of twists in just to surprise the reader.
  • Emotion. Sometimes I'll read something and emotionally lack a connection - I need to care about the characters and their goals
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  • 7 months later...
  • Administrator

Oh, and I forgot - a decent understanding of spelling and grammar.

Good size chapters. I do a lot of my reading nowadays off a small screen and long chapters are just... unbearable. It's more tolerable on a PC but how often do people read on their computers these days? Please no 10,000 word chapters. Break it up a bit. Think about your mobile users.

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Hmm... let's see...

Well first it needs a good and convincing plot, that is well defined and decently easy to follow, you can write twists but there's no need to have one in each chapter.

Cliffhangers are good, especially at the end of a big thing like fight, but again in small and calculated doses.

Not too long chapters, I feel 3000 is a good balance to tell everything yo want to say, no need to add too many words of be too descriptive, if the story is written well the readers won't have trouble imagining the scenes.

Character growth, give them a goal to strive for, but make it challenging to get there, otherwise no challenge no growth.

Emotion, make your characters feel, and have the readers feel like them, otherwise they won't care about them.

Differentiate the characters, different personalities and quirks make handling a situation differently too, even if they're just all humans, what matters is that they're not the exact same copy of one another.

And last but everyone knows this, no ovepowered characters unless its strictly necessary, maybe for a villain, but protagonists shouldn't be.

Edited by Sakura Alexia
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