What Makes A Good Story?

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Everyone has stories.  And every story has similar elements: who, what, when, where, why, and how.  So what makes a story good?  A story that keeps your attention, has you sitting on edge of your seat, and lingers in your head long afterwards. 

I don’t hold the secret sauce, but I were to guess, a good story, no matter what subject, tailors to its audience.  You see, all stories are about people.  As a minimum, from the audience perspective, what grabs their attention?

At heart, I believe, is the story’s angle – how the story is presented? Be it mystery, comedy, suspense, or something else, the story angle should stand out, appeal to the senses, and be memorable. It draws the audience in every step of the way.

Copywriters do this for a living by composing compelling headlines.  Here are samples from today’s news:

  • Teacher “froze in pure shock” after botched experiment set teen on fire (CBSNews)
  • Holocaust survivor under guard amid death threats (BBC)
  • Most of Nation’s top public universities aren’t affordable for low-income students (NPR)

What do you think makes a good story ?


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