The Secret To A Good Story

By: Naomi Metoyer
OwlFeed Journalist

I’m what they call a storyteller. Or at least that’s what they’ll call me when I’m rich and famous and probably decrepit, or so I like to hope. But in my all-encompassing knowledge as not only an ameteur writer, but also a reader and listener and person, I have come to a conclusion. It’s what I like to call my secret to a good story.books

If you think about the elements that make up a story, as taught by any teacher you’ve ever had in any English class you’ve ever taken, you’ll be met with the same answers. One will be plot, as another might be word choice, or perhaps structure or theme or conflict. As a student and reader, I have to agree that all of these things do truly make for a compelling read, though it’s always been a wonder to me that the focus of our curriculum completely overlooks the real heart of a great story. And that secret, that spirit of a story, is, of course, the characters.

One of the only books I enjoyed reading for school (or perhaps one of the only one I ever finished?) was The Outsiders. As a middle schooler who hated the idea of reading for school, the book was a pleasant surprise. From Ponyboy Curtis to Cherry Valance, from Johnny to Darry, the characters were the heart of the piece. As they are in any good story, the characters were real and relatable, with faults and merits that resonated with the intended audience.

This is why the story’s dips and twists made me feel something- because I cared for the characters, because it was happening to someone I sympathize or empathize with. Because these characters were but the representation of people and pasts I am so familiar with. They were naive and loyal and utterly real.

The development of a character in a book, from their flawed start to their improvement at the end, resonates with our own personal life stories. They are us in hero form, to remind us that everybody has a bit of extraordinary in them. They are the heartbreaks and the highs of life, the very soul to an otherwise plain world.

And I don’t mean exclusively novels, either. Short stories and poetry collections, comic books and graphic novels are stories, too. Even beyond that of which you find in a library are the stories of our world.  The myths and legends and fairy and folk tales you hear as a child. You find stories on Netflix and in film, at grandeus theatres and in comedy panels. The sweep of a paintbrush is a story within itself, as is the beat of rap song or the way a dancer moves about the floor.

But the best stories, the ones that are being written every moment of every day, in every breath and step and word. They’re the stories of us, the people of the world. They are filled with adventure and romance, humor and heartbreak, success and failure, life and death. Just as real, living people were the inspiration for the very first stories, the people of this world still unknowingly inspire the stories of the future.

We all become stories in the end. Whether a legend or a myth, we remain, if faintly. When we all are but dust blowing in the wind, we will still be the stories of the world. It is up to us all to choose what kind of story we’ll make.