What is a story? Steven Witkowski

    There are no requirements to a story. So many different elements can be used to make up a story and not one of them are absolutely necessary to have a story.  In  Story Proof a story does require certain elements character, intent, action, detail, and struggle. I agree that if all of these bases are covered you most certainly have a story story. However, to me, you don’t have to have conflict, action, struggle, even much detail or character can be absent in even the best of stories. There’s just no simple way to define why we connect to certain things, and why I connect to one part of a story can be very different from how others connect. This is why no story has ever been dubbed the best. It is all truly very subjective. You may choose to implement interesting characters in a story, each one inserted in to try and connect with readers in a different way. Characters are one of the best ways for a story teller to make a connection with an audience. However it’s not impossible to have a story without characters. You can connect someone with a place/setting, an idea, a picture and many other elements that may create a connection with an audience.
     I feel most of all a story should be a connection from the audience to whatever is in a story. Obviously different audiences will likely connect to different things in the same story, so it’s hard to say which elements should be absolutely required in defining a story. I enjoy stories with complex, well developed characters, when a story opens up the thought process of characters by giving background or putting them through trials and conflicts it allows me as an audience to connect to that person and think about what I might do differently. The more you know about certain characters the better, but sometimes in stories not telling you much of anything about a character makes them all the more intriguing. As great as I think characters are sometimes even the best characters are hurt by a bad plot or inversely poor characters are elevated by a great plot and viewed with less scrutiny.
     With or without characters the key to having a story is still making a connection somehow. You can make a story out of making a connection with anything, like describing eating chocolate chip cookies, or the feeling of being alone or scared. Both of these stories, when told by different people will almost certainly be different and include many different things as well as some things that might be similar, but no element of the story is essential and it again comes down to what you’re trying to connect an audience with. Also I must finish by saying a story isn’t limited to any amount of connections, and the answer to the question, “What is a good story?” may be related to the number of connections you make, or how many elements you can connect with. So, you can take a story and make it so many different things, but you don’t have to do much to have a story. It can be as simple as one connection between a reader and the story. If you’ve created something, someone, or someplace that sparks a thought process, or an emotion then you have a story.

-Steven Witkowski

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3 thoughts on “What is a story? Steven Witkowski

  1. meaganmthornton January 20, 2015 / 6:12 am

    Steven, I thought your post was an interesting read. Let me ask you this: how would you tell a story about a place without making a character of some sort? Even if you were attempting to describe the events regarding a piece of the scenery itself without outside influence, does that piece of terrain not become a character itself in some way? – Ben Brzowski

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    • meaganmthornton January 22, 2015 / 3:41 am

      When you put it that way Ben I guess I would have to agree. What I would define as a story without a character would most likely be seen as turning that place or object into a character. You’re just creating that character with each little peice of info about it. So to be clear you can have a story with no people, but you will always create some sort of character. (Steven Witkowski)

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      • meaganmthornton January 25, 2015 / 2:15 am

        I too was questioning this idea of a story not having a character. As Ben pointed out, there must be a voice to form the narrative. However, I would love to see someone find story that defies this and does not have a character. -Meagan

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