It’s All In The Definition

Not really. It’s in the perception of what the definition means to the person hearing it.

Makes sense, right?

I have a friend (sad, only one) who asked me something about one of my stories. And I said something along the lines of, ‘Well, like any good story …’ and she stopped me, hand up, to rebut. ‘You mean, what you think is a good story.’

It’s true, we all read the same thing in ways that resonate with our background, our learning, our understanding of the world it came from and into.

But story? Well, story has a definition.

What? You don’t believe me? Let me show you my definition and you can say how it’s different to yours.

A story has at least four parts to it. The first part is an introduction to the world, the main character/s, and the sense of conflict that’s there, or on the horizon. The second part of the story is who they meet on this stage of the journey so they can learn what needs to be learned to enable the journey to keep moving towards an end. The third part of the story is trying out the things learned in the second part – there will be failures, of course, because no one gets it right first time, do they? The final part is where it all comes together, where the two opposites must come together to duke it out until only one is left standing.

That’s the basics, of course, and those basics can have so many different ways to travel the journey for the character that there aren’t enough people on the planet to cover them all. Okay, there will be some things you recognise. What’s a good story if you don’t see some of yourself, your own journey, in the story?

And that’s where the difference comes in – how we (the person reading the story) FEEL its relationship to our lives.

And yes, there are multiple ways of explaining what a story is that doesn’t say anything at all about what I’ve written above, but when you pull it apart, lay it out like a puzzle, you will find it. You will.

Every story has the point where we meet the character who needs something (internal or external or both), and has to learn enough to take on the task of change or purpose, tests it out for ‘truth’, and the moment when it all comes together to make the meaning clear.

Or am I wrong? (Delusional, was the word she used.)


yes, still editing – getting there! Promise.


7 thoughts on “It’s All In The Definition

  1. But to write an entertaining story, you don’t have to follow the definition. Loosely is fine. A strong voice is enough to carry me through a story. That’s my background.

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  2. This post is the basic definition only (as in: need, learn, practice, master) – a strong voice is something that comes only after a (probably long) apprenticeship. A master with a strong voice can bend any definition and keep the reader entertained.


  3. Your definition is very character driven, Cage. It could be situational or descriptive without having an obvious character.

    for me it’s 3 – intro to set it up, middle where stuff happens and end that concludes in some way that satisfies, even if it isn’t a full ending – partial conclusion, prelude to more, or whatever.

    Mostly I feel it has to have structure to bind it it and some aspect of interest worth the readers time and thought to explore.


    something like that.

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