The Answer to "What is a Story?"

Monday, May 4, 2009
Okay, you wimps. Only Lady Glamis, Becky, and B J Keltz had the guts to really chime in. JK ;)
Glamis said a story is overcoming conflict. Becky agreed with her. Beautiful, precise, and accurate.

B J Keltz also said it needed an awakening or a change in understanding.

So, which is right?


Why? Because the answer varies according to the individual. Different people like different kinds of stories--that's why books are so varied.

So, what's my answer? (drum roll, please): A story is a satisfying emotional journey.

Again, what satisfies you and what satisfies me is different. Not a big fan of horror (I have way too much imagination). Nor do I like tragedies. Poetry is okay, occasionally. Why? Because they don't satisfy me. Tragedies have sad endings. Horror makes my scardycatitis into scardypantheritis. After about two poems, I fall asleep (There's not enough tension, no character to fall in love with, and don't get me started on meter). But the key is, if a writer can take their audience on a powerful/beautiful journey and drop them at their destination with a feeling of satisfaction, people will buy it.

Your mode of transportation = emotion. The destination = satisfaction. Having trouble figuring out the what your mode is? Write down your top 10 favorite books, figure out what emotions they provoke, and you'll have your map. If you find out what you want out of a story, you'll be able to write it into a story.

And that, my friends, is vital to being a good writer.

For your own sakes, figure it out and let it guide you.

So share, what's your favs?

Forgive typos. I wrote this whole thing while propping my daughter's bottle with my chin. :)


  1. A note to BJ - I am planning a series of posts that asks that huge question - WHAT IS ART. Be afraid. Very afraid.

    Amber, great explanations here. Thank you! This sparks some great ideas for me. :)

  1. The question here was a bit unclear. I wrote a list a while back about my favorite things to find in a novel-- and my un-favorites. It showed me *why* I fell in love with certain novels, and why I couldn't even finish others.

    For example, I love truth-telling as a form a riddling. This is a specific example of a broader stoke of what I love: cleverness, clarity and honesty.

    I always feel a bit miffed by "reveals" that show the MC had more information than the reader. But there's a whole list there if you are actually curious for more ;o)

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