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Monday, April 1, 2013

The Perfect Story

Picture Credit: http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/cadbury%20creme%20eggs

For this posting on writing the perfect story, I had to stop and think about what to use as a picture. I finally decided to go with the most perfect thing I could think of--Cadbury eggs.

I don't know about you, but I LOVE Cadbury eggs. I read on Kristen Llobrera's blog that that liking these things is a sign that you haven't hit adulthood yet (see her blog here). Well if that's true, I'm still a LONG way from adulthood and I'm happy about it.

For those of you who are not chocolate lovers, I'm including a much more boring picture to depict a perfect story that even you can be happy with.
Picture Credit: http://rafzab.com/

Whichever image you prefer, let's take a look at how to develop the perfect story. This formula is one I picked up from a class I attended, taught by Clint Johnson. You can visit his website here. The perfect story will have the following 6 traits:

  1. Absolute simplicity of comprehension- every reader will completely understand every facet of the story with the first reading
  2. Absolute depth of meaning- every reader will gain a new and deeper understanding with every reading
  3. Absolute originality- nothing about the story will be similar to anything that has ever been told or experienced before
  4. Absolute universality- every reader completely understands and relates to the story
  5. Absolute intensity- every scene in the story will perfectly grip readers with force and make it impossible to put the book down
  6. Absolute authenticity- every scene is completely believable and logical
After reading through this list, there is an obvious reason why the perfect story has not been written (nor will it ever be written). It is impossible for any story to reach absolutes in all of these aspects--quite frankly, I think we'd be hard-pressed to think of a book that reached any one of these absolutes.

What we end up with is give-and-take that looks like this:
In the circle, you have to decide where your story should fall to tell it as effectively as possible. The closer you move toward one thing, the further you are moving from something else. So, you may ask, if the idea of a perfect story is impossible, why talk about it at all? Good question! 

Each of these 6 traits is desirable. Think about your story. Where does it fall in this circle? Is that the best place you can think of for the particulars of what you want to accomplish? Could you add just a little more of one of the traits to make your story a little more perfect? There is no single right answer, and different readers have different preferences, but taking a look at this circle and thinking over your story may show you that little something it was missing.


  1. Hi Rachel,
    You talked about originality in your post. I'm having problems with that, it seems like everything I write is horribly clichéd and it's driving me CRAZY! How do I become original again?
    Oh and thanks for posting the picture of the eggs, I'm craving chocolate now, which is never a bad thing. :)

  2. I went to a class once taught by Brandon Sanderson, and someone asked him how he comes up with his amazing endings. He said that when you piece together your ending, reject the first 5 ideas you come up with, each time stretching yourself for something more unexpected. I think his advice is the best I can come up with, except you don't have to apply it to just the end.

    There have been times when I know what I want the desired outcome to be, but I have struggled with how to get it. I mull it around in my head for days sometimes before I come up with the "perfect" solution that is going to be natural and inevitable, but will still take my story the direction it needs to go.

    I hope that helps a little! Thank you for trusting me with your questions. I enjoy talking to you on blog.