What makes a story good? Preference plays a key role in determining whether or not a novel becomes popular but trends are always changing and everyone has different opinions.
I for one am not a big fan of having stories rated by a few choice people inside an industry, deciding what is good and what is not based on a definition they created themselves. I can name you several books that made the New York Times Bestseller’s List that I thought were so terrible I wanted to unlearn how to read.
That being the case, is there such thing as a good story? Or is it simply beauty in the eye of the beholder?
I think back to the classics- yes the classics. What made them literature? What makes them so special that high school kids are forced to endure hours and hours of endless Shakespearean prose that hardly anyone understands nowadays. I absolutely hated To Kill A Mockingbird in tenth grade when I was forced to read it for a school report. So why do we do it? Why do we hang on to such old scripts that are far removed from the times?
Simply put, the reason we are even still talking about them is the reason why.
What makes a story good is that it is remembered. Preserved inside the hearts and minds of the readers, passed down, coming up in conversations and making it’s way into ideas. We may hate it, but we remember it because it left us something to remember.
I hate to say this, because I myself am not a published author yet, but observing the trends around me, the recent books and screenplays that have hit the market for the last few years, everything comes and goes so fast. If you think about it, a book suddenly explodes in popularity because of a film adaptation about to come out and for the entire month it is all everyone talks about. Then just like, by the end of the year, people struggle to remember key details about it. They’re bored, wanting to jump to the next thing.
To me, there’s nothing worse than hating a book, but not remembering why I hate it. The way I know a book was at least worth my time is if I can sift through the billions and billions of words implanted in my brain and select that particular story. I can recall the main parts (though I’m always terrible with recalling names). I know it from every other story out there because it was worth remembering.
First purposes of a writer- give people something to remember, for whatever reason it is. Whether it was your characters that created amusing scenarios or the way the plot twisted so unexpected or the subtle romance that unfolded in a unique way. Give the audience something that will last.
One day, I hope to present a story that will be loved, but ultimately I hope it won’t be forgotten. I hope it will be worth recalling in the future, maybe come up in conversations or worm its way into people’s heads when they see a certain picture or hear a song. If I do that, then I know, I’ve succeeded in fulfilling at least one of my purposes.
And that will make it all worthwhile.
If I’m going to be anything more than average, if anyone is going to remember me, then I need to go further, in art, in life, in everything