What is a Story Anyway?

– From Archived Site – 

I’m slowly getting through a newly acquired book purchased in an effort to boost my creativity, Wonderbook.  Honestly, it’s a bit of a slog.  Not because the book is bad.  The book is actually quite good.  It is just very, very DENSE.  This is not content that one can breeze through lightly.  The illustrations alone are worth pouring over.  They are so rich and original they can spark any number of creative ideas.  Just take a peek at the cover shot I’ve provided to the right and you’ll get the general idea.

Wonderbook also contains writing challenges in each chapter.  Perhaps not so surprisingly,  given my fledgling and sporadic writing career (hobby, who are we kidding?), I had difficulty with the first exercise.  Wonderbook provided an unusual image and then challenged the reader to provide the story behind this image.  I found this instruction very vague.  What kind of story?  A short story?  What is a story anyway?  And here is where I became stuck.  You see, in all of the writing reference books I own – and there are an embarrassingly high number of them (most unread at this point) – none actually defined what a story was.  I always thought of a story as some type of narrative with a beginning, middle, and end.  But is this even true?  How did I come up this definition?  Sadly none of my books provided any guidance so I turned to the internet.  Here’s what I found.

  • Merriam Webster – STORY: An account of incidents or events (not so helpful)
  • Dicitionary.com – STORY: a narrative, either true or fictitious, in prose or verse, designed to interest, amuse, or instruct the hearer or reader; tale (a little better?)
  • Google – STORY: an account of past events in someone’s life or in the evolution of something (Why even put this out there?  It means absolutely nothing.  Gibberish!)
Nothing about a beginning, middle, or end in any of these definitions.  Basically, I could just say whatever I wanted.  So without further ado, here is the image and the associated story:


A cranky middle-aged man who spent far too much time with his ledgers dreamt of escaping to a tropical island paradise where his parrot companions would whisper scandalous, extortion worthy town gossip as giant fish serenaded him on a nightly basis.

Now clearly this “story” satisfies the criteria based on my highly rigorous, internet based definition(s) but it’s not particularly good.  I did actually write something that more resembles what I consider to be an actual story and I’ll post it for your reading pleasure as soon as it’s complete.  In the meantime, forward with the rest of the Wonderbook!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s