alisa alering

Writer of fantasy and other fictions

What a Story Does

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I was commenting on someone else’s story today, and I wanted to say something about what a story is, what it does, and why having characters moving around on the page for 4500 words doesn’t necessarily equal a story.

I knew there was a quote that expressed this beautifully and directly. A quote that I really need to keep in mind when I’m doing my own work, because I am also regularly guilty of characters who meander happily (or miserably) without actually getting anywhere.

It’s from David Allan Cates, and it goes like this:

[Stories] explain the day the heart opened, the day the heart closed. They explain how we became who we are, how we became aware of something ugly in ourselves or the world, or beautiful. How we lost faith. How we found it. And how, exactly, to the moment, to the second, we finally—albeit briefly—understood.

Damn, you know. I think that pretty much covers it. I’m going to tape that up over my desk.

(Read the rest of the article at Glimmer Train).

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Author: Alisa Alering

I write stories. I read stories.

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