Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Is It a Story?

“There are three essentials to every story: a character, a problem and the rewards awaiting the solution of the problem.” -- Louis L’Amour in The Writer’s Digest Guide to Good Writing.
Thanks Loren and AVR for your postings on what makes a story.

All the posts to date on this topic pointed out the need for conflict and resolution in a story. I didn’t get that when I began writing. I wrote stories that left out one or both, usually the resolution. I left it up to the reader to decide what happened. (At some point, I decided this was due to amateurishness and/or laziness on my part, and that I wasn’t being fair to my readers. If anyone knew the truth about the outcome, it should be me.) In a few of my stories, the conflicted person wasn’t the main character. Based on responses I received, readers didn’t like either of these ideas. Editors, in particular, wanted to see a well-developed protagonist who changed in some way by the end of the story. Of course, there’s another person involved in this process, the reader. I read somewhere -- I think a critique group -- that it could be the reader who changed by the end of the story. I guess this could work in a short story.

Today’s quote mentions the rewards awaiting the main character. Another way to think of this is what will happen to the character if the problem isn’t solved. If the answer is nothing, the work’s probably not a story.

One of my stories, "Alone," appears in this month's issue of Ascent Aspirations Magazine, and another new one, "Not Again," is on my website. I hope you enjoy them.


Loren Christie said...

"It could be the reader who changed at the end of the story." I really like that idea.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed "Alone'' very much, especially the sentences--Guilt stared back. Well done.