11 Tips: What Makes A Good Story?

portrait of girl wearing christmas hat

Everyone loves a good story. That’s the reason why so many people flock to the movies or spend hours reading novels – it’s because we love to get lost in a great tale. Here are 11 tips from the experts on how to write something fabulous.

1. Tension is the cornerstone of any good story. Eric Nylund

2.  A good story, just like a good sentence, does more than one job at once. That’s what literature is: a story that does more than tell a story, a story that manages to reflect in some way the multilayered texture of life itself. Karen Thompson Walker

3.  Be unpredictable, be real, be interesting. Tell a good story. James Dashner

4.  A good story cannot be devised; it has to be distilled. Raymond Chandler

5.  A good story should make you laugh, and a moment later break your heart. Chuck Palahniuk

6.  Tension is the cornerstone of any good story. Eric Nylund

7.  No, it’s not a very good story – its author was too busy listening to other voices to listen as closely as he should have to the one coming from inside. Stephen King

8.  My only conclusion about structure is that nothing works if you don’t have interesting characters and a good story to tell. Harold Ramis

9.  I do feel that if you can write one good sentence and then another good sentence and then another, you end up with a good story. Amy Hempel

10. I’m just trying to write a good story, strictly from imagination. People just think it’s random, they don’t see the rewriting, phrasing of characters, choosing the words, bringing the world to light in which the characters live in. That creates an illusion that this is real. Eric Jerome Dickey

11. I always try to tell a good story, one with a compelling plot that will keep the pages turning. That is my first and primary goal. Sometimes I can tackle an issue-homelessness, tobacco litigation, insurance fraud, the death penalty-and wrap a good story around it. John Grisham

Hope you find these tips useful. For further reading, check out my posts 3 Parts to a Great Blurb and 10 Ideas for Writing Practice  And to make sure not to miss anything from Libby Sommer Author you can follow me on Facebook  or Instagram.




11 thoughts on “11 Tips: What Makes A Good Story?

  1. Libby, these are all terrific quotes about what makes a great story. Further to Grisham’s point, Jodi Picoult is an excellent novelist who takes up an issue and writes an engrossing story with brilliant characters, heartfelt events … always memorable. I’ve just finished her superb ‘A Spark of Light’ and ca highly recommend it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. glad you like the tips Jacqui. yes, i like the Palahniuk quote. great if we, as writers, can evoke strong emotions in the reader. understandable that you prefer happy. we need more laughter in our lives methinks.


  2. “No, it’s not a very good story – its author was too busy listening to other voices to listen as closely as he should have to the one coming from inside. Stephen King”

    As I see it, the cause of that sort of failure is a lack of sufficient honesty with oneself.

    So far as I know it works this way: If you want to be honest with yourself, you must dig down inside until you come to the things you yourself cannot doubt. Those are your honest beliefs, your personal truths, the way you really see things. The things you yourself cannot honestly doubt.

    But what does that have to do with what King is talking about?

    Everything. Your honest beliefs are often the creative ones. The beliefs that only you yourself have. Only at least only you yourself and a few others have. The other beliefs are almost always the cliches.

    When you dig down for your honest beliefs, you usually dig down below the cliches.

    And that, I think, is what it means to listen to your own voice, rather than to all the other voices.

    At any rate, that’s how I see it. Maybe I’m right. Maybe I’m wrong. But I would be lying to say I think otherwise.

    I enjoyed the rules you posted. They got me thinking. I might even have thought enough to have learned something. Thank you for sharing them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. yes, so necessary to dig down beneath the cliches, Paul. thanks so much for your thoughtful response to my post. glad you learnt something. i’ll pop over to see what Cafe Philos has to say.

      Liked by 1 person

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