Tuesday, June 30, 2015

3 Things I Love in a Good Story // Heidi

Welcome to our new monthly series—3 Things I Love in a Good Story! I decided to post this first month myself to help give an idea of what we’ll be doing, but I’m looking forward to all your eager participation in the coming months!

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… 

from Heidi

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.

~     ~     ~ 

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.

Visit and contact at: Sharing the Journey // Along the Brandywine // ladyofanorien(at)gmail(dot)com


  1. Oh Heidi! This is SO exciting! I'm really looking forward to this now.
    I totally love your three items-especially the strong ending (and the last line!) and the camaraderie. I love romances that are also friendships (I mean, what true romance isn't both??) but I never really thought of it quite the way you put it. Thanks for giving me points to think about-especially when writing my own story!
    And, ahem, I'm sure you already guessed this, but I'd LOVE to be a guest poster! ;)

    1. Natalie!
      I'm so super happy you're excited!! I'm so glad you enjoyed the post -- it was a lot of fun. ;) And you're welcome!

      Yes, indeed! I'd LOVE to have you as a guest poster! Would August work for you? (You could get it to me whenever you have time before then.)

  2. What a fun idea! I love your answers. I don't usually do guest posts, but I'll definitely think about it.

    1. Reading in the Dark,
      Thank you! And oh, absolutely. Think about it and if you ever decide you'd like to do one I'd be delighted to have you! :)

  3. What a fantastic idea. What is at the heart of a truly fantastic story, a story we want to hear over and over again? I love it. I'd love to be a guest poster for this series!

    1. Jenelle Leanne,
      Thank you and exactly! I'm glad you enjoyed it and so looking forward to having you as guest poster! ;)

  4. I'm on board!

    Also, I am so with you on the huge chunks of descriptions. I skim those. I'll be like, "trees, blah blah, sunshine, blah blah, storm clouds, blah blah, let's get back to the story already!" In fact, in my writing, I struggle a LOT with adding enough descriptions that readers aren't flummoxed.

    And camaraderie is so wonderful. I don't require it, but I do love it :-)

    1. Hamlette,
      Yay! I do love your upcoming post. ;D

      And yes and yes. Precisely! :)

  5. What a terrific idea!:D

    And oh, my goodness…the way you described everything! You have a true gift with words:)

    I'm definitely with you on those elements! They're all so important to a good story.

    1. Olivia,
      Oh.... thank you!! ;) I so appreciate your kind encouragement and I'm so glad you agree!

  6. Hi, Heidi,
    This is such a cool idea! I know just what you mean about the camaraderie in good romantic relationships, although it's really hard to explain. It's sort of how the guy and girl work well together and have a good time sharing jokes and stuff.
    I would love to write a guest post for this series, if that's okay with you . . . I would have to pick ONLY three though, because there are a whole bunch of things I love in a good story :)

    1. jessica prescott,
      Thank you!! And yes, exactly.... that deep underlying thread where sometimes (even if one or the other doesn't always understand the actions of the other one) they "get" each other. ;)

      And wonderful -- I'd absolutely LOVE to have you do a post!! :) Can you send me a quick email at ladyofanorien(at)gmail(dot)com and I can answer any questions you have and we can figure out a good month?

    2. Sure! I'll do that right now :) It will be from my school account, which is not under the name of "Jessica Prescott," because that's a pseudonym, but I'll tell you who it is so you'll recognize me :)


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