What Is A Story? — Ben Holland

What is a story? It certainly isn’t based off of the binomial faction that a story is fiction, while a “non-story” is nonfiction. Stories can be mostly truth, and a little bit of spice. Stories can be told and retold and end up a little bit different. There is no requirement for percentage of truth within a story. In fact, truth is not relevant in the discussion of story at all. As Kendall F. Haven states, “The information contained in a story may be fact or fiction, invented or carefully researched and validated.” (p. 16)

In other words, story is not the content itself. In fact, it is fairly independent of the content. Story is a characteristic or a form of structuring the content. Now we’re getting somewhere… What Haven eventually tries to prove is, despite the numerous scholastic minds at the table, story is more of a mechanism than it is a subject. In other words, story is not a thing itself, but a characteristic of a form of giving information. Story is morphing bland sentences and  phrases into something compelling, something emotionally driven, and something with flow. It’s the equivalent of splashing colors on a black-and-white society.

After debunking all of the myths, dismissing all of the previous definitions, and coming to the bottom of what our minds want to do with this word “story,” Haven takes a whack at it:

Story. n.: A detailed, character-based narration of a character’s struggles to overcome obstacles and reach an important goal.

What do you think? Does it settle it? Is something still missing? Does a story have to have a character? Does a story have to have a “struggle” or a sense of “overcoming?” Haven’s definition certainly adds spice over the dictionary’s definition. But does it encompass all versions and types of a story? Can you think of examples that shatter this definition? Is it a stretch to make them fit?

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One thought on “What Is A Story? — Ben Holland

  1. meaganmthornton January 25, 2015 / 2:21 am

    “Story is a characteristic or a form of structuring the content.”- This was well put. A story is the framework, the scaffolding. – Meagan

    Like

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