Elements of a Good Story in an Over-Cluttered World

With the increasing amount of information, news stories, and social media posts spewing out these days in milliseconds, finding a “good” story may seem physically impossible. For me, a college student used to reading hundreds of stories throughout my career at Syracuse, stories seem to all mesh together in my memory unless they have some sort of element to help them to really stand out among the rest.

So, what exactly makes a “good” story?

1. Use of Pictures

Anything with pictures helps to grab my attention. Just like any normal little kid would only choose a children’s book based upon the pictures inside of it, I prefer to choose and read a news article or story with pictures as well. Therefore, once I am actually reading the content within the story, I can look at the pictures for further insight about what it is about and what occurred.

An example of the use of pictures helping to develop a story is apparent in the CNN article “Oregon shooting hero tells gunman, ‘It’s my son’s birthday today.'” The article talks about how Oregon shooting good-guy Chris Mintz told the shooter that it was his son’s birthday after being shot multiple times. The use of pictures not only breaks up the large amount of text throughout the article, but also helps me to identify with Mintz by seeing what he looks like, and seeing how other people reacted to the tragedy.

CNN included this picture of Chris Mintz in its article about the Oregon shooting hero.
CNN included this picture in its article about Oregon shooting hero Chris Mintz

2. Emotion, Emotion, Emotion!

I might be a sucker for an inspirational and happy-sad story, but emotional elements of stories really do grab my attention for a good reason. A story without any emotional, touching, or thought-provoking elements may be written well and have all of the facts needed to get a point across, but will not make me remember it long afterwards. Therefore, the best stories are the ones that make me feel and remember something for a very long time. An example of a story that has emotional elements which will remain with me for a long time is one that TODAY featured in an article on its website. It is about a doctor who discovers a woman crying in the hospital while undergoing cancer treatments. He later finds out that the reason that she is crying is because she believes that she spread her cancer to her pet dog, Wally. The story proves that the woman was more concerned with the health of her dog than she was with her own health.

A small segment from the story, "A sick woman's concern for her puppy will break your heart."
A small segment from the story, “A sick woman’s concern for her puppy will break your heart.”

All in all, finding stories with pictures and a strong emotional element make me jump for joy. Finally, a breakthrough and a breath of fresh air in this over-cluttered news story, social media story, and story-story world! Let’s just hope that more authors remember to create “good” stories, rather than rush to get out information quickly.

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