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What Makes a Good Story?

I read and read and read  - thousands of fics a year I'd say - and I find myself wishing every time that somewhere, someone, would compile a complete anthology of 'the good ones.'   Then I ask myself that who decides which ones are 'the good ones'; after all, everyone has different tastes.  So I wonder what makes a good story?  To me, it's in canon and in character for an ongoing tv show, and in character for a movie, because the very nature of a story based on a movie can't be in canon if it occurs after the events of said movie.  How does everyone else judge?


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 21st, 2008 12:20 am (UTC)
Great question. I'm going to have come back with a more thorough answer, but I'll begin by saying that the characters have to be recognizable--and not just by their names. The notion of what's in character for any given character is highly subjective, but I know when I read something whether it feels right or not. That's not helpful, I know. It's some intangible thing. I don't mind deviations from canon--if the writer is skilled enough/cares enough to make me believe. Things have to make sense.

Good fic respects the characters and their history. For example, Cam is not a raving bitch. She and Booth had and continue to have a cordial relationship. I dislike stories that knee-jerk paint her as the obstacle to Booth and Brennan getting together. Again, she COULD be an obstacle, but it has to be done right.

This is only tangentially related to your question, but I actively try to avoid reading Mommy!Brennan fics. Not that I have anything against pregnancy. It's just that Brennan has been so vocal about not wanting to have children that I wouldn't trust just anyone to credibly write a Mommy!Brennan story. I firmly believe that it is possible for people to change their minds about fundamental things like religion and children. HOWEVER, I'd need to see the process--the journey--that led to that shift. I'm sure it can be done well, but my guess is that most people don't try to do that; they just have her get pregnant because that's generally a fairly normal progression in a long-term romantic relationship, and then we're just supposed to automatically suspend our disbelief. But there are big issues there, and they need to be addressed before I'll buy that. Not to mention that I think she'd at least CONSIDER having an abortion.

I am totally rambling and have no idea if any of that made sense. I'll be back with more, I'm sure. :)
Jan. 21st, 2008 12:38 am (UTC)
Cam is a brilliant example - one I didn't think of to start with. I love to find out more about these characters through the fics, so I like it when authors expand on what we know of them, but I have to *recognize* them - you were right on the mark with that.
Jan. 21st, 2008 12:55 am (UTC)
Re: Cam
A good piece of fanfic fills in the blanks that naturally exist in a show or movie. It expands on the source material/character in a believable way. It makes me think, "Yeah, that IS how it was." Even if I'd never considered it COULD be like that until I read the story.

I've always felt that shows and movies paint in broad strokes, while the written word can go in and paint the fine details and gradations. What I love most about writing and reading fanfic is the chance to delve more deeply into the characters I love.
Jan. 28th, 2008 07:37 pm (UTC)
Re: Cam
Yeah! That thing about filling in the blanks and making you think 'that IS how it was' really rings true.

Oh and I agree with all the other salient points above.. aren't I lazy this evening. Now if I could just write some damn fic I'd be OK :(
Jan. 29th, 2008 01:58 am (UTC)
Lazy? You can't help it if great minds all think alike right? After thinking about it, I think that is EXACTLY what makes a good fic - thinking 'this is the true story' behind these characters.
Feb. 16th, 2008 03:02 am (UTC)
I'd have to say that the couple of things that really make stories stand out to me is if I can pretty much feel the emotion of the characters, if the descriptions are really good, as well as that the plot keeps me interested and glued to the story throughout the whole read.

I agree with you guys on that if it's a fanfic story, the characters really need to be acting in ways that are believable considering their personalities.

I also agree with you all when you're saying you love it when an author comes up with backstory that seems plausible for the character but is not told to us as part of the show. I always find that really interesting. :)
Feb. 16th, 2008 03:24 am (UTC)
The believable backstory really makes a fic work for metoo. Even if the plot itself is not something we would expect from the characters/show, if the backstory behind it rings true for me then it works.

So glad to hear from you *waves*
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )