What is a Story?


Professor McLitt told us that in fiction, you should never do a thing at a time. What does it mean? It would be reasonable to think that if you write one thing at a time, then you’re going to put more care in it. But this is not what he meant. A good writer should never separate the dialogue from the description and action. It this happens, description, information, action and dialogue should be very well connected. A sudden change from description to dialogue or to action makes your writing clumsy.

Also, you can tell a lot from a description. The description of a room can be a characterization of a person. It can provide us information about what is going to happen next. These are some elements that we need to take into consideration when we write.

We have talked about description, action, dialogue. But what does a story need? What is a story? We have discussed it together. A story needs uniqueness, a spark that makes it “writable”only by a specific writer. But most of all, it needs movement, passion, honesty. It needs challenges, something to be conflicted about. This may become a little philosophical, so Professor McLitt brought us down on earth.


A story needs a setting. A place. A somewhere.

It needs a protagonist and an antagonist. A someone. A character, a person.

It needs something to be conflicted about. A something.

A story is something in the wrong place. It can be a moral place, a non-routine situation. People don’t want to read about a routine. They want something new, something to be conflicted about. The protagonist should ask themselves: why am I here? A city is a good place to write about, since it seems like we are always in the wrong place. Think about a milkshake in an abandoned house. A guy dragging his own cloak on the first floor of a house. What is it about? Why is he/it there? When you write, open things. Don’t close them. It is better if you go out of control. It is better if your characters’ lives go unpredictably. Go on. The editing, later.

A story is about something going wrong and something going more wrong. A non-routine situation: something is wrong, you try to fix it but it does go more wrong.



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