What Makes a Good Story? Demystified!

Have you ever wondered what makes a good story? When you were a child, why was it that some stories you loved, and other stories you hated. I think that as children, we sometimes can have a much better mind for judging stories than when adults. This is because as children, we are always wanting to go back to the secure world we live in. If we see a scary movie, we want to sleep in our parents bedroom the next night so that we can be reassured of the stable world we live in. If we read or are read an inspiring and imaginative story, we want it to be retold to us over and over again. In this, we could be considered very critical as children.

But, let me say something: As adults, we shouldn’t change our screens for what makes a good story. No, I’m not saying that there won’t be stories we’ll understand or appreciate better as adults. As our minds mature, so should our appreciation for proper storytelling. However, our minds shouldn’t change. They should only mature on what we knew as children.

In other words, the secret ingredients that make a good story for a child ARE THE SAME ingredients for what make a good story as an adult.

So, what are these ingredients?!?

Simply put, these ingredients are the same ingredients that encourage healthy society – that is, stories that build up the reader – stories that the reader can think about any time of day with fondness – stories that give them hope, inspiration, imagination, and wholesomeness.

To be more boiled down than the above: “There is but one good; that is God. Everything else is good when it looks to Him and bad when it turns from Him.” ~C.S. Lewis

Ultimately, good storytelling is that which looks to Him. I think many stories of the past understood this principle better, even if the author wasn’t aware of it, which is why many stories have stood the test of time to be called a classic.

E. Nesbit’s The Railway Children / Five Children and It
Frances Burnett’s The Secret Garden
Kenneth Graham’s The Wind in the Willows
Beatrix Potter’s many short animal stories, including Peter Rabbit
Kate Wiggin’s Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm
Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
Mary Dodge’s Hans Brinker, or the Silver Skates
Laura Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie

This list can go on and on. . .

Why is it that these stories have stood the test of time? In some way, they all give hope, inspiration, imagination, wholesomeness, outdoors adventures, vivid and wonderful descriptions, a theme of redemption.

Such elements in storytelling are the ingredients to making a good story.

Your fellow writer,
Joshua Reynolds

P.S. As further extrapolation with what I mean by “good storytelling”, check out my authored books The Williams House and Treasure on the Southern Moor in my bookstore! You can find free chapters of them here.

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