The most important quality of a good story is the ability to take readers somewhere else and make them glad they went. It’s also essential to make the writing easy to read, which means the writing must be grammatically correct. Nothing takes an experienced reader out of a story faster than having to decipher convoluted sentences with improper punctuation. Ideally, a story should leave readers a bit better off than they were before, either because of what they learned about the world and themselves, or because of the respite from their everyday lives.
Here are some responses from others Second Wind authors about the essential qualities of a good story. The comments are taken from interviews posted here: Author Interviews
From an interview with J J Dare, Author of False Positive and False World
The hook is the essential part of a story; with a good hook, the reader won’t want to put a book down. I try to draw the reader in immediately with a one-two punch.
From an interview with Mickey Hoffman, author of School of Lies
I want the main characters to have a “quest.” The quest can be a real journey or one in their heads and if there’s mystery involved all the better.
From an interview with J. Conrad Guest, author of One Hot January
For me, the most essential quality of a good story is characters with whom I can connect. Finding a good story to write is easy; but writing about characters the reader cares about is more difficult. Hannibal Lecter is one of the most demented characters ever conceived, yet he was fascinating, a train wreck away from which we want to look but can’t.
From an interview with Eric Wasserman, Author of Celluloid Strangers
I want stories that make me think and feel long after they end. I’ve read beautifully written stories that make me think and feel absolutely nothing. It may sound strange, but I am absolutely willing to forgive a poorly written or clumsily constructed story if it makes me think and feel something profound.
So, what, in your opinion, are the essential qualities of a good story?
Pat Bertram is the author of Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. All Bertram’s books are available both in print and in ebook format. You can get them online at Second Wind Publishing, Amazon, B&N and Smashwords. At Smashwords, the books are available in all ebook formats including palm reading devices, and you can download the first 20-30% free!