Tuesday, August 11, 2015

What Makes a Story?

I read two separate definitions of story today as I perused some of my favorite writing blogs.

From the excellent Janet Reid:

Ok, so I can hear you asking "what makes this a story and not some of the others?" This has a beginning (the first line); it has a middle ("we try and do our part") and it has an end (June 15) 

There's change in the story  . . .

There's more to  what she has to say, and it's worth going over to the link in order to read it.

A story necessarily involves change.

And then I read this, over at Rejectomancy (fast becoming one of my favorite writing blogs), from an interview he did with Gabrielle Harbowy:

A premise is not a plot. A premise is the set-up and the plot is the conflict and resolution that happens to one person within that set-up. 
Many, many short stories go something like this: “I have this awesome idea, so I’m going to flesh out a world around this idea. Right at the end, I’m going to introduce a new fact about the world that you didn’t see coming. It’s a plot twist!” 
Except, no. It isn’t a plot twist. It’s just a reveal of withheld information. “Guy looks in mirror and studies his hair” isn’t a plot, so when it turns out he’s actually a dog, that’s not a plot twist. In a plot, there is a protagonist (a character who wants something concrete/has something at stake), and something between that character and their goal. If no one has a goal, there’s no conflict or resolution. It can be a perfectly good vignette, but it’s not a story. Okay, he’s a dog. So? What conflicts arise from the guy being a dog, and what does he do about them? THAT’s the plot.

Again, it's very worth going over to the blog and reading the rest of the interview.

Story has movement. Story isn't just a set-up. It's always good to get that reminder.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

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