- Strong Characters. They don't necessarily have to be likeable but they must be memorable. Even the villains have to have something about them that makes you, the reader, understand why they are acting the way they are (and maybe even sympathise while knowing they should not win). The heroes/heroines need to have qualities we like and flaws (nobody likes a goody-goody after all).
- Strong Plot. The story has to make sense and it must grip. There has to be a sense of having to find out what happens next. With other world stories, there must be a sense of what that world is like and how it operates so that everything that happens in it makes sense. Terry Pratchett's Discowlrd is the supreme example of this (well it is for me!).
- A satisfactory ending. It doesn't have to be a happy one. It must make sense and follow from what has gone on before. The characters need to carve out their own happy ending as much as they can. It should feel as if it is the most appropriate ending for that particular story.
- A powerful opening. It really does have to draw you in so you have to read more. Without this, the strong characters etc won't get their chance to "shine". I've written these points in no particular order but this one should come top as everything else follows from it.
- Realistic Dialogue. It should feel like natural dialogue without all the hesitations and repetitions we all come out with in real speech. You should be able to tell your characters apart by the way they speak. (We all have our pet words and phrases after all - so should they).
What qualities would you look for in a "good" story (regardless of format or length)? I would choose the following:-
I'm Allison Symes and I write novels, short stories as well as some scripts and poems. I love setting my work in my magical world, the Fairy Kingdom, and my favourite character is Eileen, who believes hypocrisy is something that happens to other people without caring that statement is hypocritical in itself! Eileen is huge fun to write for and about.