Kristina read an exercise in a How to Write book that went something like this: “How do you define a story? There’s no right or wrong answer. What makes a good story to you? After you’ve written it down, read it. Does your writing fit your definition? If not, why are you writing?”
Both of us could write paragraphs on the topic, but below are the short versions.
What a story is to Kristina.
A story is a portal through which the reader may choose to step, finding the same words that have been used by countless others for centuries arranged in such a way that s/he experiences something new, something wonderful, something surprising and steps out the other side changed, even in the slightest, by the journey.
What a story is to Jonathan.
There’s really nothing I can add to Kristina’s definition, so I’ll tackle the second half of the prompt. I write because it feels good. And because I hope that what I write will mean something to someone. Perhaps a reader will identify with the struggles of one of my characters, and find hope in how they overcome their obstacles. The joy and relief of discovering that someone feels the same way you do, and struggles the same way you do, is a potent feeling that can dispel the deepest darkness. ‘But those are fictional characters, Jonathan,’ you say. Yes, but a real person wrote them into being, someone who likely shares your feelings and used their own experience to craft a character with the unique powers to handle something that they personally have struggled to resolve, and through that act of creation found the strength to change themselves…in real life. That power to change is the hallmark of a good story to me. To quote a popular song: “I might only have one match, but I can make an explosion.”
Why do you read? Why do you write? What is your definition of a story? Share with us in the comments! And by your compass stay true.