What Makes A Story?

I have been staring at this blank sheet of paper for some time now, trying to decide what I want to write about. Usually, I could come up with a hundred topics to talk about and all the reasons why they are worth discussing. However, when I look at this piece of paper, otherwise known as my screen, I’m coming up blank. While sitting here brainstorming, it smacks me in the face!

What makes a story anyways?

Is it our memories? Is it memories passed from generation to generation? Do they come from the dreams we have while we are awake? Or while we are sleeping? Do stories come from things that happened in the past? Or do they come from what will happen in the future? Maybe they come from what happened this morning or this afternoon? Perhaps they come from our fear of something. Are they born from keywords we think of? Maybe they come from a feeling or emotion?

Book with ship and pirate coming out of the pages
Image Souce: Tumisu at Pixabay

Maybe It Is Their Construction

Perhaps stories come from construction. Any good story is created from five basic elements, as noted by Katie Kazoo. To start, you need characters, a setting, a plot, conflicts, and finally, resolution. But is that all that is required to have a good story? Are we making new stories every hour of every day? Perhaps pieces are missing from this list that creates the stories we pass down from generation to generation?

Jane goes to work at the office. Jane’s Boss forgot his report and asked Jane to redo it for him before the board meeting starts. Jane saves the day and hands it to him as he passes through the doors to his meeting.

Does that three-line paragraph count as a story? or just a moment in someone’s day? And if it counts as a story, that has to be quite possibly the shortest, most sterile story I’ve ever told and you have read. But the question is, does it count as a story?

Perhaps Feelings Make It A Story

Arriving at the office a few minutes early, Jane pours a cup of coffee and begins organizing her day. “Jane,” she hears her name coming from a familiar voice. Looking up, Jane spots her boss rushing towards her in a panic. His breaths coming in gasps, she realizes he is panicking. “What’s wrong, Bob?” she asks in a compassionate tone. “I forgot my report for the board meeting this morning! PLEASE tell me you can redo it before the meeting starts!” he finishes in a pleading tone. “No worries, Bob,” she states firmly with a bright smile.

Moving her tasks aside, Jane immediately begins putting the pieces of the report back together and getting it assembled. Her peripheral vision catches Bob pacing back and forth in his office; she knows he won’t rest until he has planted it firmly in his hands. Steadily she continues putting the final pages into place as he comes through the doors anxiously looking at her. “Is it finished?” he questions. “Of course it is Bob,” she confidently states, handing it to him with a smile. “Go get ’em!” she chirps as she watches him move through the meeting doors.

Presented in this matter, does it count as a story? or is it just a moment in someone’s day?

As a writer, storyteller, person, I am always looking for a way to connect with my audience. I think Brandon Sanderson summed it up best by saying this.

The purpose of a storyteller is not to tell you how to think, but to give you questions to think upon

In closing, I’ll leave you with this question, which version is the story? Or is there a correct answer? Perhaps What makes a story is perception. 🙂



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Martha MacDonald

Martha MacDonald


Digital marketer by day, creative writer by night. Creative writing gives me room to express myself and share my love of writing with others.