The One Thing Every Good Story Must Have
Good characters really help a story, as does a good setting, good writing, and good dialogue. We all know this. However, we have seen poor examples of all of these. They are not hard to find.
How can such stories succeed? These stories can succeed simply because they have the main ingredient, the one thing that no story can be without. That, of course, is conflict, though perhaps tension is a better word.
Without tension, you have no story. We could have a wonderful character developed over years of thinking and experimenting, but if he has no problem, than he is just a talking head. Boring. These are the stories you read in writers’ workshops or those college writing classes you took, the ones where you said, “Well, George, I like your use of _____, but nothing seems to happen in your story.”
However, even if we have a flat character, in a plain setting, with poor writing, you can have a story if you add tension. For example, many have said that The DaVinci Code has many weak points, which may or may not be true, but it is filled with tension from start to end. That carries it through any faults it has.
It is with tension that you need to start. When we rewrite, we need to add more. We need to manage it, bring it up or down, decide where, when, and how to resolve it, and how reveal tension. Neglecting it will cripple or kill a story by boring your reader. Tension. This is storytelling’s main ingredient.