ENG 1141: Intro to Creative Writing, Fall 2020

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  • Participation Activity, Session 11: What Makes a Story a Story?
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    Jennifer Sears

    For instructions on this Discussion Board, refer to the To-Do List for Session 11:



    Personally, what makes a good story for me is when someone loses a conflict and that character has to progress to build up their character to go against the conflict again. A revenge story, but not stereotypical one. One that makes it meaningful to the character. Like maybe this is what he wanted and fulling acknowledges the consequences, but is still a good guy that wouldn’t harm others that had nothing to do with it. Or maybe he finds a new meaning in his life or ideology through his journey, not just from allies but from villains as well.

    An example that I can think of is through an action packed game called Metal Gear Rising. Where the main character failed his mission to protect his associate and his arm (including eye) during the conflict. After that, he received a new body and new mission to go against the same adversaries that defeated him and stop their plan. During the journey though, these same enemies mess with his ideals with their own and battle who’s ideology is superior. Battle of who is in the right and wrong of violence. That’s what a good action / revenge story is for me



    What makes a good story for me is the climax. This forces the reader or watcher to want to know what happens next, and assume what will happen towards the end. The climax for me is the most intriguing part of any story! For example, when reading the NOTEBOOK, the climax was for Ally to choose between who she wanted to be with while she was engaged. She was still having mixed feelings about both people but I was just not sure who she would choose because of her feelings about herself.

    Another example of what makes a good story is a plot. A good plot must be able to catch the reader’s attention to any writer. I think that knowing what audience you want to appeal to is definitely important. For me, romance is something that I like to see in a plot. When I read a book, one thing I always do is read the main plot or overview of the story. The plot must be eye-catching and attractive to my sense of imagination.



    I remember when I was little my mom reading me 365 days of classic short story tales. Then it slowly transitioned to me reading bedtimes stories myself and watching classic films. Now that I am much older my taste in different genres has changed but those classics still have a place in my heart because it either taught a valuable lesson or have been very adventurous. I think what makes a great story in my opinion has to include something relatable, suspenseful, and adds drama. My first tv show that gravitated to was Degrassi’s next generation; I believe the reason why I watched it was because it was about teenagers in high schools facing challenges like bullying, peer pressure, sexual identity, and so on.
    Now I watch shows like wentworth, power, and euphoria even though they are all in the non-fiction category they are all completely different shows, and what makes it good is the suspense of each episode you can guess what will happen next but you never really sure because the show is capable of surprising you any chance it gets. When I am watching a show or reading a book I want it to able to have that non- fictional trait and for it to have some sort of suspense that will want me to find out what will happen next, I believe that is what makes a great story.


    Andy Escobedo

    In my opinion, whats makes a great story is the emotional sentiments and related experiences the reader feels towards the story. In addition, if the story is able to make the reader cry then it’s a great story. for example, the story “Insomniacs After School” is about two characters dealing with a bad case of insomnia however later on the story the male protagonist found out why the female doesn’t sleep and the reason is due to her having a defect heart and she can die any day. I too cried with the characters because I can relate to their struggle and emotion as I too felt like this many times from my head trauma and dealing with an abnormal headache it just sometimes keeps me up all night that I just ignore sleeping.


    Elizabeth Mathews

    A great story depends on the audience. Everyone has different taste and opinions. So, what makes a good story all depends on the persons preference. To me a good story consists of a few things. These things are impact, realism, and relatability. I love when a story has an impact on how I will view things moving forward. When a story is relatable is also important because if you are able to relate to the story and connect to its characters you will always remember it. Realism is another key to a good story because the closer it is real to its reality the more attractive the story will be. Forest Gump is one of my favorite movies. It was relatable, real, and impactful. It was impactful because it teaches you to always treat people nicely because you never know what they are going through and it also demonstrates that no matter what trails and tribulations you go through you can still succeed in life. It’s relatable because many people can relate to many of the trails Forest went through within his life. It’s real because it’s based on true stories and the movie makes you feel like you’re going through life along with Forest Gump. To me that is a great story and what a great story consists of.



    “What makes a story great” for me first the Theme. A theme is something important the story tries to tell the reader—something that might help the reader in their own lives. Not every story has a theme, but it’s best if it does.

    Another important thing to make a story great is the plot. The plot is most often about a conflict or struggles that the main character goes through. The conflict can be with another character, or with the way things are, or with something inside the character, like needs or feelings. The main character should win or lose at least partly on their own, and not just be rescued by someone or something else. Most often, the character learns or grows as they try to solve their problem. What the character learns is the theme. The conflict should get more and more tense or exciting. The tension should reach a high point or “climax” near the end of the story, then ease off. The basic steps of a plot are: conflict begins, things go right, things go WRONG, final victory (or defeat), and wrap up. The right-wrong steps can repeat. A novel can have several conflicts, but a short story should have only one.

    Also, before a writer starts writing, he/she should know the characters well. the main character should be someone readers can feel something in common with, or at least care about. The writer doesn’t have to describe a character completely. It’s enough to say one or two things about how a character looks or moves or speaks. For me, The main character should have at least one flaw or weakness. Perfect characters are not very interesting. In the same way, there should be at least one thing good about a “bad guy.” I think by using those ways a writer can make a great story.


    Karanjit Singh

    What makes a good story in my opinion is the climax. The climax is the part where all the intense tension is built up to and the action occurs. This causes the reader or the person watching the movie to be more interested in the story and get curious of what will happen next. In order for the climax to happen the story is gonna need a conflict and the protagonist solving that conflict. One of my favorite movies titled “The Maze Runner” shows a climax where Thomas the main character proves his team wrong about not finding a way to get closer to the exit of the maze. They did not have faith in him because many people died trying to find the exit cause of dangerous creatures out there stopping them. Loud and intense music is played while the Thomas and his team tries to get out as the creatures chase them down, they do everything they can to stay alive whether it be hiding or even fighting back. This kind of scenes makes a good story that will hook the audience and force them to keep watching in order to know what will happen in the end. To me this consist of a great story and how it should look like.


    Steven Bachoo

    The element that makes up a good story for me is seeing the action that occurs in every aspect of the story. I like to see the conflicts as a story goes on towards the end and then seeing what the impact will be. It can either be a negative impact or show a positive outcome. If you can imagine that it’s seeing the tension between two people on the spot. The tension is what makes a story very interesting to read and really engage people to get involved with how the story is gonna play out. People might also have predictions of what they think might happen next. And also there are times where people have opinions about some part of the story. They might agree on one thing but some people might have another opinion about it. Another element that makes a great story is drama. A movie that I can reflect on that I have watched is called “Fences.” The movie deals with Drama and how it shows the impact between a son and a father.



    What makes a great story for me is when a story is relatable and shows authenticity and vulnerability. I think that a story being relatable is really important as it can evoke emotions and capture the reader’s attention. In the video, I find Michael Eisner’s opinion to be most convincing. He talked about a “oh yea that’s me too” factor, and I think that’s what gets the readers hooked and make the other elements of a story more captivating. A novel which reminds me of this is “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury, a future society where freedom of thought is limited due to a censorship which was created by society itself. It’s very relatable and made the plot even better since it can actually occur and not only that, but there were also a lot of moral lessons.

    • This reply was modified 3 years, 6 months ago by RonaldF.

    Ray-Ana W.

    In my opinion, to create a great story there has to be a complexity between the character’s emotional mindset and the actual plot happening. First, when it comes to the character’s mindset it needs to keep the reader guessing, making the reader unable to know his/her next move. Instead of feeling emotions as anyone would expect the character has a constantly changing emotional state.
    Next, there needs to be a captivating storyline that grasps the attention of the reader. Lastly, once you get into the book it should be filled with twists and turns that keep the reader constantly on edge and so enthralled to see how the entire story ends.


    Oscar Ramirez

    For me what makes a good story is the lore they can fit into the character and the world surrounding it. I like to get invested into the story so I would like to understand the character and the word they live in. Also what I notice from other people and myself is when a person can get attach to a character that makes a story worth reading or watching for they don’t want to see the character die, fail, but succeed in what ever they have to go through in the story. Like in the video one of the person told an example of the Pixar movie UP of how we got to see the characters whole life in the first few minutes and it manage to make everyone cry cause of how they built the characters. So for me a good character development and the world they built is good cause I can get invested with the character on a personal level, like make them feel more human instead of a character in a book or film.


    Orion McCaine

    One of the things that makes a good story is the plot, the story itself. Twists, turns, surprises all grab our attention and keep us engaged and actively listening. Another aspect is how the story is told. Some people are great orators and have a way of demonstrating the acts that occur in the story and make it come alive, so to speak. Even if the story is written and I am reading it, the writer’s language serves the purpose of engaging me by stimulating my imagination and inciting imagery in my mind that propagates as the story progresses.


    Alex Cheung

    What makes a story great for me is the conflict. This is because the conflict is the problem / issue the characters are trying to solve. To me, the conflict is the most interesting part of the story. For example, one book I really enjoyed back then was Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, the conflict was that Zeus’s lightning bolt was stolen and Poseidon was the suspect and it is up to Percy Jackson to find and return the lightning bolt before the Summer Solstice or a war will break out amongst the gods. Another thing that makes a story great is the solution. The solution shows how the character solves the current conflict in a clever or smart way.


    Jason Liu

    In my opinion, what makes a story great is the entire story itself, from beginning, middle and to the end. Great stories always attract readers and let them feel as if they are also in the story. Most of the time, a story intrigues people in the beginning and towards the middle of it. One of my favorite manga/anime is called Haikyuu!; the story is about a young boy who was biking to school, and as he was passing by, he saw a glimpse of a high school national volleyball game. Volleyball is a sport where height makes a difference. But the boy saw a player who was the shortest person there, and had incredible jumping power. They called him the “Little Giant”, and he was inspired to be just like him. What I love most about this show is that the intensity whenever there’s a crucial moment in the show. Whenever something big happens, the music that plays in the background almost gives you goosebumps as you watch every moment unfold.

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