What is a Real Story?

Because a site like this that takes the word Story as a proper noun really ought to have such an important term defined.

Story is not a cute (or obscene) something someone said.  It is not a physical object.

A story has a beginning, a middle and an end.

Becky is always quoting Donald Miller’s definition at me:

A story is just a person that wants something and overcomes conflict to get it.

Antoinette Botsford, in a workshop here in Fairbanks some years back, offered a memorable formula with the letters P.P.P.O., asserting this (short list of four elements) is the test to distinguish a true story from a mere anecdote.

An anecdote can be entertaining and can be valuable, but a group of words is not a story unless it contains a person, a place, a problem and an outcome.

 The basic story formula I heard James Scott Bell use  is:

Chase a man up a tree. Throw rocks at him. Get him down again

My main problem with this format is that I never could figure out why someone would end up in a tree, just to get rocks thrown at him.  So I’m always looking for motivation or reasons behind the “had to happen for a plot-point” stuff.

Could be why I’m drawn to folktales, to expand or find the why of what is required within that story.

Ultimately, I think a real story is about change.

It may be growth or atrophy, hard or harder, but if the characters are all the same as they were in the beginning, we have not experienced a story, just a storm.

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