What is a Story? and Fundamental Story Problems

I read a great deal, both published and yet-to-be published works. I continue to see the same issues that cause me to stop reading.

When it comes to reading, I have a short attention span; I think that is a good thing. Because of my need for a writer to pull me into a story, I have stopped reading many more novels than I have completed. Why?

I give any novel approximately 50 pages to get my interest; if after that many pages (about 20,000 words on average) I am not intrigued either by the character, the writing or the story-world (I read a great deal of fantasy), I’m gone. Adios. Bye-bye. So Long.

Perhaps I have tossed aside some very good books, but I stand by my decision. It is the writer’s job to interest me, and if they have not in an allotted amount of time and words, I figure they do not deserve my time or my interest. Some readers I know allow half that much when judging a novel, others twice as much, and some read a novel to the end even if they only have moderate interest—I do not have that kind of free time.

To illustrate my point and the importance of grabbing a reader . . .

What is a story? I cannot count how many times I have been asked that question or some variation. Reflecting on the question of what makes up a story, I think what the reader is asking is, Why do some stories remain with me and others drift away shortly after finishing?

I believe there are three main points, topics, or instances required within each story, and without any one of them the story fails to entice the imagination of the reader:


Should any three be removed, a story cannot be satisfying. Of course, there is more to a story than that, but those three items must be at the heart of every story if the story is to succeed. To expound on What Makes a Story . . .

Enough for now . . . Go Write,



This Week’s Writing Quote: In Memory

“Stories of imagination tend to upset those without one.” Terry Pratchett


This Week’s Links:

Secrets to Querying Agents
Grammar Helps
One Author on How To Plot a Novel
Another Author’s Ideas on Plotting a Novel


Author: Rick "C" Langford

Writer, blogger, Business Owner, dreamer, and fantasy lover

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