Recently I watched a preview showing of a new theatre work. It was completely devoid of story. Instead, it was a series of short scenes without purpose or meaning. There was no coherency, no linkage between scenes; it simple did not make sense. This had me thinking, what makes a good story?
Putting aside a bunch of literary rules and advice, I came to the conclusion that for me, a good story must be either thought-provoking or light-hearted entertainment.
A thought-provoking story makes you ask questions. It sparks debate over what is right, and what is wrong. It’s confronting. It’s conflicting. What would you do in a given situation where ultimately, there is no right answer? It’s not black and white, but very much shades of grey. Take Jodi Picoult’s My Sister’s Keeper, how far would you go to save your child’s life? Would you potentially endanger their sibling? Is the gain worth the risk?
Light-hearted entertainment is an easy read. It transports you from the everyday to another realm where you simply sit and enjoy. The better stories are also inspiring. They motivate you to make change;encourage you to improve. In Chasing Harry Winston, by Lauren Weisberger, three women successfully pursue new career paths and find meaningful relationships along the way. The story leaves you with a sense of hope; enthused to achieve your goals and dreams.
Thought-provoking or light-hearted entertainment, that’s what makes a good story for me. But much like the thought-provoking story, there is no right or wrong answer to the question what makes a good story. It’s very subjective. So I say, if you enjoyed reading it, than it’s a good story.
Tell me, what makes a good story for you?