What Makes a Good Story

by MW Cook

  • Good stories are convoluted, for life is convoluted. Anything true is deep and complicated. Every person is interesting and intricate. If these things are not true in a story, the story is lacking.
  • Good stories are beautiful, for life is beautiful. Without beauty the human soul cannot relate perfectly with a story. Without beauty something is missing.
  • Good stories are meaningful, for life is meaningful. In the deepest tragedies, in the most glorious victories and in everything in between there must be meaning. Otherwise why would I care about the story (or life) at all?
  • Good stories are difficult, for life is difficult. You cannot pull good things from life with wrestling. So it is with stories. They should not give up their treasures without a bit of a fight (but not too much).
  • Good stories are fun, for life is fun. A good story must entertain, because life is so very entertaining. If it were not so, why would we keep living?
  • Good stories are emotional, for life is emotional. The good story tugs on your heart, one way or the other. And it hardly seems to matter which way it tugs, so long as it tugs.
  • Good stories are epic, for life is epic. It could be the epic of a lone hobbit triumphing over the immortal dark lord. Or it could be the epic of an illiterate village girl finding, at the end of her life, a friend. The mundane can be epic. Indeed, it must be.
  • Good stories are fantastic, for life is fantastic. Fairies are wonderful things in stories. The fantastic, magical things that dwell in stories mirror the mighty wonders in our world that we cannot understand. Fairies are real, for they mirror something unknown and beautiful in reality. And if your reality is missing things like fairies, I wonder if it’s missing too much.
  • Good stories are truth, for life is true. I was once told that storytellers use lies to tell the truth. And that is the truth.
  • Good stories do not help you escape, for life does not. Entertainment that offers me an escape annoy me. I do not want to escape life, I want to live it more. A good story does not distract you from life. It shows you life. It helps you live life stronger and harder. If you want to escape, try drugs. If you want to live hard, read a good story.