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Features of Good Stories

My Science Fiction class is peer editing a narrative exercise we started earlier in the week.  I give them peer editing guidelines and model what a good peer edit might look like.  My addition to what I normally do is a PowerPoint with suggestions for making the feedback more helpful for the writer.  Part of that effort included a list of what features can be a part of a good story.  Here's the list:
 
  • An authentic story telling voice: a sense that a real person with attitudes and opinions is speaking.
  • An attention to specifics in description: a sense that the story is too accurate about details to be a lie.
  • Selection of the vital: a sense that the author knows what is important in action, description and dialogue, and leaves out the unimportant.
  • Nicety of word choice: a tendency to choose interesting, vivid words (particularly in the verbs, but elsewhere also).
  • A consistency of inventiveness: a repeated tendency to surprise the reader (in all areas of the writing).
  • Flow or momentum: a sense that the story is going someplace and that there is purpose or urgency to the words.

We'll see how they respond to this.  The list is abstract and theoretical without concrete examples, and I clearly could make a lesson out of each of the bullet points, but I like the coverage.