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Author Topic: What Do You Think Makes Up a Good Story?  (Read 2063 times)
Mickeymac92
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« on: June 02, 2011, 05:46:45 PM »

The Question here is in the title. I've been thinking for a while now what I think is a good story, and so far I've only thought up of two requirements:

1) It must be able to intrigue me and hold my attention for the full duration of the story, no matter what the format

2) The characters must be likeable

Of course, I know there's more to it than that, but I can't think of anything. So I felt the best thing to do was ask everyone else what they think a good story is and see if I can get some ideas from their responses. Also, I think it'll help me understand the people here better, as I don't think I agree with everyone here on what a good story is.
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« Reply #1 on: June 02, 2011, 05:57:46 PM »

This is really too vague of a question to answer. On one hand I'm tempted to answer by genre. On the other, I'm convinced that I'm able to like anything, provided it is well done.

Generally, I prefer that the narrative is told in a non-traditional way. Whether this be through time, a unique point of view, or some aesthetic decision, I find myself attracted to things where the way a story is told is highlighted just as much as the narrative.

There are a few settings/genres that do not interest me all that much. Fantasy, for example, is the most boring shit ever. At least the novels are. The movies? I can stomach those.
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« Reply #2 on: June 02, 2011, 06:35:04 PM »

I actually find your second point to be unnecessary for me.

I've been reading a novel called Live Free or Die, wherein the protagonist is NOT my kind of guy - he's a "I hate city folk" hardcore conservative.  But he works incredibly well as a character.  I don't have to like a character to get into them - they just have to be good for what they are.
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« Reply #3 on: June 02, 2011, 06:51:08 PM »

I tend to think of good stories strictly as things that get me emotionally invested (utsuge, nakige) so I'm biased against anything that chooses not to be dramatic or tragic, etc.
I rarely think stories are bad, maybe just average especially with comedy and slice of life things.
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« Reply #4 on: June 02, 2011, 07:37:32 PM »

For me a story has to make me feel invested in the characters. The story can be cliche or even unoriginal as long as it's told in an interesting way and I develop some type of rapport with the characters involved. As KeeperX stated I don't have to necessarily like them, in fact I can actually dislike them as long as I feel something for them, if I am indifferent then obviously I have developed no emotional attachment and the story is boring me. Case in point, the cast of SO4 was so bad I simply didn't care one way or another about much of what was going on, while the story in Rogue Galaxy was certainly cliched but I enjoyed the characters so I enjoyed the story. So may be for me it's a writing and/or acting aspect. If one or the other is good then I'll inevitably like the story better (we are talking video games here obviously, not books or movies) even supposing I realize the story is sub-par.
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« Reply #5 on: June 03, 2011, 08:20:57 AM »

Characters are most important for me as well. Not that they're likable, but they have to be well developed and complex. I am a LOST fan not because of the (often very convoluted) story, but because I think the characters were interesting and fleshed out nicely.
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« Reply #6 on: June 03, 2011, 09:03:51 AM »

What keeps me in a story is the cast. Plots have to be good and all that-- but I don't always make up my mind about a plot until I'm at least halfway through or near the end, and in order to get me to that point I need to be interested in the characters. It's why I think I like Agatha Christie's little books. They can be predictable or conventional but I enjoy reading about her characters: the gossipy old woman, the predatory gentleman, the frantic wife. And of course the eccentric Belgian detective. ;)

Characters definitely make or break a good story.

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« Reply #7 on: June 03, 2011, 03:27:35 PM »

The setting.

Usually I go nuts with for the steampunk or cyberpunk story settings,then I see stories come to life with vivid detail using these fantastic worlds.I have to be willing to jump into the era or setting with my favorite stories,see as much as possible before the final chapter ends.

Its not the only factor I look for in a story but it matters to me the most.
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« Reply #8 on: June 03, 2011, 03:37:05 PM »

You know what (allegedly) Hemingway thought was his best work? This 6 word short story.

For Sale: Baby Shoes, Never Worn

Point being I'm not sure there is a criteria that can be universally applied. Magnificent prose can sometimes carry just like any of the other things mentioned.
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« Reply #9 on: June 03, 2011, 03:56:32 PM »

Hmmmm...characters would definitely be the most important but it is a tough question to answer. I rarely care for aesthetics and tend to get bored with most books/movies/etc. where that is the focus. Honestly, I'd say much depends on what you mean by story because I don't even need much of a plot to enjoy a book or game or movie so long as it has some really great characters interacting. I think I'm enjoying Persona 4 so much because the focus is entirely on character interaction and development.
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« Reply #10 on: June 04, 2011, 01:34:40 AM »

I think characters are important, although I generally like stories best for plot and setting instead of characters.
Although it felt like Harry Potter introduced too many secondary ones that mostly seem underdeveloped and it had a nice setting/plot.
It had a well-fleshed out world, but too big of a cast.
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« Reply #11 on: June 04, 2011, 09:24:33 AM »

For the love of god, don't subvert your subversions with fucking cliches.

Seriously, don't introduce a character who takes a tired trope and does interesting thing with it then lamely replace said character with the very archetype of said trope. Don't introduce a murder mystery involving an unreliable protagonist/narrator, running from the law, and supported by a cast of basket cases then try to justify it all with hours of technobabble that literally translates into A FUCKING WIZARD DID IT!!!. And don't go replacing a fallen character with their identical twin brother who's exactly as proficient at the tasks set to him as his late brother despite only a handful of people actually having any involvement with said task whatsoever, or replacing the new main character that you've been grooming into the being the new main character with the old main character who's character development concluded a long long time ago.

Seriously, don't.
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« Reply #12 on: June 06, 2011, 01:48:26 AM »

A "good" story in my eyes has to come from being able to say something about the universe, either about the human condition, the environment, myth, politics, or something else. It essentially has to have a voice -- not necessarily unique in subject matter, but well-expressed in tone and expression. It needs not follow conventions of writing (the vast majority of good narrative fiction and non-fiction don't, and in fact the standards have frequently been revised to take advantage of their innovations), but it must have something to say.

I've read books full of unlikeable and utterly plain or grotesque characters and still found them fascinating. A great deal of Mark Twain's writing contains these. Huckleberry Finn was never intended as a likeable personality, nor was Jim. They did, however, have something to say -- about race, about social change, about the common person, and about the measure of a man.

Steinbeck, like him or lump him, was able to spin a great tale from virtually nothing at all. Corey Doctorow barely bothers with characters at all (in the traditional sense) and goes for utter abstraction instead. One of his novels features a character whose name keeps changing, and whose parents are a dishwasher and a mountain. Now, Doctorow isn't my favourite author, and in fact I can't really put up with his style of writing. But I find what he has to say engaging all the same.

Poor stories are always those which are utterly formulaic, banal, and altogether too quiet and meek in their expression. Inherently, the story reflects the mind of its creator, and pedestrian, uncultured, or altogether too conventional thinking will rarely create a work worth remembering.
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« Reply #13 on: June 06, 2011, 02:46:21 AM »

Good Characters, Sudden deaths :) Atmosphere that visually tells allot of the story without words. Though I prefer cyberpunk stories, anything will do with a good set of characters. As someone has said, Star ocean 4 has such a horrible cast that you tend to really not care what happens to them. Games that have stories which build during the game like "resonance of fate" are always a plus for me. You know, you have to feel for the characters before caring about the story, I dunno, thats what I think
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