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What Makes a Good Creative Story?

By: Angelique Caffrey - Updated: 19 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
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What is it about one creative story that makes it accepted as much better than another similar piece? Is it something tangible? Or is there some mysterious aspect of the work that makes it of a particularly high quality?

Though amazing stories do have some almost-magical, hard-to-define traits, most share some similar considerations, as described below.

Believable Characters

Even if your characters consist of a talking mouse or a 24th century cyborg, they have to be believable in some manner. As their creator, you must develop personalities which will resonate with readers. Though you needn’t design characters who are particularly likable, they must be realistic; thus, they should behave in a consistent (for them) manner.

One excellent way to determine if your characters appear fleshed-out (rather than two-dimensional) is to write a biography for each personality. Then, make sure that the characters “fit” their profiles when they make decisions, talk, or behave.

Provocative Plot

Even the most amazing characters will be lost if the situation in which you place them is flat or uninspired. (After all, isn’t that why so many cinematic sequels fail? The original characters are intact, but their adventures are lacklustre.)

To check the strength and originality of your story line, consider asking yourself these pointed questions… and answering as honestly as you can:

Has this plot been rehashed at least a thousand times before? (If so, you may need to tweak it and add some new twists if you’re unwilling to scrap it entirely.)

Would I truly want to re-read this story a second, third, or even fourth time? (Most wonderful works are revisited again and again or at least passed along to others.)

Is there anything missing here? (In your excitement to finish your piece, don’t forget to give your audience all the details they need to feel a part of the story line.)

Superb Use of Language

Having technical skill in terms of grammar is only half the battle of writing a story that turns heads… and pages. In order to pen a story that is unique and powerful, you must pinpoint the perfect words to use in your piece.

This means doing more than simply relying upon your word processing software “Thesaurus” tool. You have to understand the subtle nuances between similar words and phrases, selecting them with care.

Can this process be tremendously tedious?

At times, yes.

But when you take the time to pluck only the ripest fruit from the language tree, you’ll be doing both yourself and your story a huge favour.

Balance between What is Explicitly Told and What’s Implied

It’s a balancing act – you don’t want to spell everything out for your reader, but you also don’t want to withhold essential elements. What is an author to do?

In order to maintain the delicate balance between saying too much and not saying enough, you’ll need to edit your story with a keen eye and a cutthroat attitude. Even if you’re in love with a paragraph or two, you must ask yourself, “Is this really adding to the piece?” If the answer is a definitive (or even reluctant) “no”, make the ruthless decision to hack away. It’s a little painful, but your final result will be a much more solid work of art.

“Buzzability”

The term “buzz” may be somewhat of a trendy word, but it’s an excellent way to describe those works that you just must discuss with someone else.

For instance, have you ever watched a movie and then actively sought out friends who have also seen the film, just so you can talk about it? Have you ever shared a book with an acquaintance because you so wanted to have a conversation about the story? That’s what “buzzability” is all about. It’s mysterious and hard to define, but when it’s there, it’s alive and powerful.

How can you tell if your story has this kind of intrinsic excitement? Pass around a few copies to trusted members of your “inner circle” and see what happens. Don’t just listen for feedback; see if your friends really want to discuss what happens. If they offer to share your words with other friends or colleagues, that’s a good sign that your piece’s “buzz” factor is high.

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