What Makes For A Good Story?
Next month, I’m thinking I might use this space to take the 40,000 feet view and leave the “writing” discussion behind for February — writing, after all, is really just a delivery system for storytelling. The pen scratching and the fingers tippity-tapping across the keyboard are merely a conveyance. We’re making the unreal real. Writing is a means to that end. The thing that’s bigger than writing is storytelling. (And the thing that’s bigger than storytelling is creating, but for me that enters “too vague” territory. I do not consider myself a “creator.” Unless maybe you mean in the godly sense, because on the page, I’m making mountains, I’m killing millions, I’m turning this chick into a swan and that dude into a spider. I am the Zeus of my own reclusive little story-worlds. It’s all thunderbolts and incest, baby.)
The reason storytelling is interesting is because it transcends medium. A good story is a good story no matter how you tell you it — whether you tell it in moving images, across comic panels, across emails or blog posts or tweets or even across the pages of an old-school novel, story is story. Writing isn’t writing in these cases: the actual writing of each mode is a whole different animal. The mechanism is separate.
But the goal is the same: to tell a good story.
And, to reiterate, a good story is a good story, no matter how it is told.
In fact, I hereby demand someone make me a t-shirt:
“I Give Good Story.”
Mmm. Sexy. Yeah. Nnnngh. Give me that story. Tell it to me, you little story slut.
Whoa, sorry, went a weird place there for a wee moment.
Anyway, my point is, if you understand story (and the telling of stories), then the only thing standing in your way is the method of conveyance. As writers and storytellers are increasingly called upon to shapeshift and don the skin-cloak of other media, it seems like it would behoove us to really get to the center of it. Break apart the breastbone and get right to the beating heart. This is especially true of those who are transmedia designers: I think the raw power of transmedia, where good storytelling nimbly leaps from rooftop to rooftop, isn’t put on display as often as I’d prefer. A lot of that gets lost and buried underneath the many-headed media approach, or it gets shouldered out by the “cool factor,” or watered down because it’s a lot of work and not all the moving parts are so clearly understood.
So for me, to get to the truth of that, we need to take a long hard look at story. Or Story, if you prefer to make things more important by capitalizing them. Huzzah, Capitalization.
Now, to you, I ask the question posited in the post title.
It’s a vague question.
And I want it that way.
Throw open you brain doors and see what answer lurks in response to the question:
“What Makes For A Good Story?”
Brainstorm. Discuss. Talk to each other.