Monday, April 15, 2019

What Makes a Good Story?

Hello, readers!

My life has been crazy busy (in case you can't tell by the long absence from my blog, Facebook, and my Travel Blog), but now I'm on second spring break, and this time I had the good sense to only book a short trip. Now, I have a few days to actually do some blogging.

The thing is, though, that I have a hard time trying to decide what to write about, at least as far as nonfiction goes. Most of what I've been doing really belongs on my Travel Blog, I can't talk about work the way I used to talk about school, and the articles and various support stories I've been reading for fantasy authors are just a little too touchy for me to comment on right now. I do have some rather depressing news about a fellow author, but I'll share that to my audience at a later time (spoiler: it has to do with a new book).

Anyway, as I was pondering what to write about, I got to thinking about a quote from John Stephens, author of the Emerald Atlas series. I used it for some of my work at SPU, and I've been thinking about it since:
[N]o one comes to write fantasy who is not, first and foremost, a lover of fantasy, who does not know its ins and outs, the various plot stratagems, the characters who insist on popping up. It somewhat stands to reason that when that person goes to write his or her own fantasy book—as I did— they don’t immediately set about chucking everything that came before; rather, they embrace those tropes, decide what their own spin will be, how they will breathe new life into the genre that they love. [1]

That's true, and I'm guilty of that myself - and I'm not sorry in the slightest, for the same stated reason.

But of course, there still needs to be something new to each of these tropes and stories, or else it's just not good writing. (Am I guilty of this, too? I don't think so, but you be the judge.) That's the point of Stephens' last line - "breathe new life into the genre that they love".

That, I have decided, is going to be the theme of this series of posts. It will be tagged with that "What Makes a Good Story Label", so you should be able to find them easily when you wish. Hopefully there will be some detailed research with this, but like I said, my time is limited (and my access to peer-reviewed databases tends to be iffy at best), so they may end up just being my own theories and ideas.

Anyway, I'm thinking of beginning with what I think of as the three sub-genres of fantasy (other-world fantasy, this-world fantasy, and dual-world fantasy) and considering what is good, bad, and what kind of story I haven't read yet. Then, I'll dig into my favorite part of the stories: the characters!

This probably goes without saying, but I really hope for feedback from you, my readers, for this part. I'm aiming to make this a serious part of my blog, and I want the blog to become something more regular in the future, but that won't happen without comments and support. So, if you want to read more of my blog, please be alert for these upcoming posts!


[1] Stephens, John. "On Fantasy." Journal of Children's Literature, vol. 39, no. 1, Spring2013, pp. 42-46. EBSCOhost,