In short, I’ll be highlighting a guest post here each month sharing (in about 500 words or less) three of the things you love in a well told story. (And notice I said it’s three OF.) There are probably dozens of things you love—and whatever three you choose may not even be the biggest—so your selections could range from plot similarities (i.e. “I like a lot of action in the climax”) to a good dose of humor to certain character qualities in the protagonist. When it comes to good story, the sky’s the limit!
I think this promises to be great fun and, of course, all your feedback will help any of us writer types out there as well. ;)
One last thing: the three points can also be from both literature and film—though obviously, some will tend more towards one or the other.
And now without more ado…
1 – Balanced description
Not huge, easy-to-skip blocks of text, but vivid turns of phrase regularly and beautifully punctuating action and dialogue. Sometimes lyrical, oft times keen and hard-edged, it’s description taking its brilliance from the mind of the writer. Words flashing light on a new angle of a rare jewel—bringing forth meaning entirely fresh—or words highlighting something familiar fashioned anew, shaken and turned inside out and upside down to show the still solid green strength at its core.
2 – A strong ending
I love it when a story feels like it’s working toward the ending the entire time—every subplot has a part to play and every character has a pivotal role. But more than that I want to feel that deep rightness where everything has been fully culminated—the ah ha! moment with the ending pulling together all the deep threads, some of which I may not even have seen (or may not notice until the third or fourth or fifth time reading or viewing it). This means I don’t really like important characters popping in during the second half of the story, etc. If they’re going to have a pivotal role I like them at least foreshadowed or mentioned or hinted at much earlier on. Once the conflict is resolved I also like the ending to follow fairly quickly. Not slam bang, but without tacking on a few extra chapters of potential doubts and indecisions for the main characters.
And also—the last line. It’s vital.
3 – Good camaraderie
Trying to pick and choose what to highlight for my third point, this one struck me and I was surprised to realize just how many of my favorite stories (in book and film) have this characteristic. It’s camaraderie as in the deep friendship and loyalty of a Jonathan and David. For a few examples:
Two brothers forming a close kinship bond (Shadow on the Mesa)
Two erstwhile enemies building a friendship (North & South)
Shipmates working together (The Buccaneers)
A loyal servant loving, laughing with, and trusting his master—with each willing to give their life for the other (Zorro)
It’s even present in well done romantic relationships! In this case it’s not always easily detectable as “camaraderie,” though sometimes it is (think Frozen and Tangled and Jane Eyre and Austen’s Emma), but it’s that tie that pulls the man and woman together under similarities and despite differences.
It’s a part of the genuine foundation of the friendship underlying a healthy romantic love whether or not (given the particular story) that friendship comes before or after the falling in love.
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So there you have three of my favorite elements! Would you like to share three of yours in a guest post? And you don’t have to be a writer to qualify! This series is by story lovers for story lovers. So don’t be shy. I’d love to have you!
Heidi Peterson is a lover of wide-spreading land, summer dust, white pounding waterfalls, and mountain tops; also of good dark coffee and rich stories. Most of all she's a lover of the One who is the Word, the Word made flesh. You can visit her additional blog (where she shares more about books, movies, and further marvels of life) at: Along the Brandywine.