What’s a Story? Breanna Larson

I have been thinking a lot about what a story is, and how our first reading assignment ultimately defined a story as “a detailed, character-based narration of a character’s struggles to overcome obstacles and reach an important goal.” but I don’t know if I quite agree with that.  I found that the author had a lot of evidence to support their claim, don’t get me wrong, but there are stories that don’t include the things that the provided definition says they do.  I have another class that is entirely built around a TV show called “Mad Men”, which I had never seen until this last weekend when I started binge watching it in order to catch up with everyone else.  I would consider this show to be my favorite story (stories) at the moment.  I have observed the story structure of this show quite intently and while there is certainly a character appeal, and there are character struggles, I just can’t seem to find that part where a character decides on a goal, overcomes struggles in order to reach that goal, and then either succeeds or fails in completing their goal.  The whole show takes place in the sixties, mostly in an advertisement company office, and the viewer feels like a fly on the wall to everything that goes on.  People sneak around, living secret lives, observing behaviors of others that they find less appealing, but there is zero conclusion to any of it.  The show operates a lot like how real life would, meaning that there are a lot of loose ends and that events are left uncompleted and dangling, with a few exceptions.  It’s quite addicting to watch though, despite the lack of any concrete conclusion.  Anyway, I had to ask myself, while I was watching the episodes, “Are these stories?” and I would have to say…yes, they are.  Here is how I would define a story, based on my observations of this show and also the many stories of my past: A story is a character-based narration which observes experience and struggles until their appeal has ran out and an ending is felt.  Perhaps this definition could still use a little work, but I don’t feel that stories are dependent on character goals and that was really my main point.


One thought on “What’s a Story? Breanna Larson

  1. meaganmthornton January 25, 2015 / 1:59 am

    The Mad Men example is good and your thoughts pose some interesting questions. I think that eventually with most TV shows you see character goals realized (ie: Rose ends up with Rachel in Friends, the Bachelor gives his rose to the last girl standing, ect.) but during the seasons not all these things are resolved. I will be interested to see how your thoughts evolve on the definition of story. -Meagan


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