Thursday, February 6, 2014

What Makes a Good Story

Australian writer, Ian McHugh, has some great tips on how to turn a good idea into a great story:

"Having a notion that the world is round is an idea. A story is like the ship you build to prove that idea. Like a ship, a story needs something to push it along, a method for navigating and steering it and a watertight structure to prevent it from sinking without trace into the dark and airless depths of crushing despair below. Like a ship, a story is a cohesive, complex, mechanical whole, the purpose of which is to deliver your idea to its destination (your readers). And like a ship, if any parts of the machine are poorly designed or constructed, your story will end up becalmed in the middle of nowhere, go off in the wrong direction or sink without trace into the dark and airless depths of etcetera."

Click on the text above to see Ian's entire post, outlining the brainstorming and writing process of his fabulous short story, "Cold, Cold War", which was published in June 2013 and is currently available online at Beneath Ceaseless Skies.


  1. Nice post from Ian! Thanks for finding it and sharing, Carol.

    Ian is to be a plenary speaker at the Conflux Writers Day in April, where I will also be giving a talk. I hope he talks about structure there as it will complement my talk on the Six Faults of Beginning Writers!

  2. Definitely some good food for thought in this excerpt. Thanks for sharing. I like the idea of comparing a story to a ship.

    MJ, A to Z Challenge Co-Host
    Writing Tips
    Effectively Human
    Lots of Crochet Stitches

  3. I might need some of these tips. Will cluck the link >:)

    Cold As Heaven