A funny and ironic consequence of writing this particular column is that I had to rewrite it a few times. I’m my own worst critic.

That’s the topic here: criticism. Judgement and how to do it properly. So I realized I’ve done a few of these criticism pieces (Recently Read: Tom Hanks) and all I did was throw in some subjective stuff about whether I liked the book, or not. Nothing really wrong with subjective stuff, is there? Except, a person reading the critique might not have any way to measure my self-proclaimed enjoyment.

“Did you like like it, or just kind of like it? And how close to love is your like anyway?”

With that in mind, I also thought about the generic 5 star system. How do you get anything out of that, other than more subjective criticism. If each star is without measurement stats, then the 4 stars for one person could mean 5 stars for another. It’s sloppy and without standard.

Thinking about what, in my mind, makes a great story, I came up with 7 things a story needs to truly be great.

  1. Drawing power: Does the story pull you in and make you feel as if you’re part of the world?
  2. Interest factor: Is the story something you want to hear, see, know? Are you craving to discover how it ends?
  3. Offensive factor: Does it present sex, violence, cursing too abundantly or too vividly? Does it present a querulous agenda?
  4. Range of emotion: Is the story serious when necessary? Do the jokes come at appropriate times? Does the story present emotions at pleasing intervals?
  5. Character factor: Are there good actors (not necessarily famous ones) in the film? Are there quality protagonists/antagonists in the literary work? Is there a quality dynamic between the characters? Is the narrator mostly invisible?
  6. Style: Does the film use sloppy-cam? Does the literary work use loose plot lines? Are all the words in the right places? Are all the props in the right scenes?
  7. Proper length: Does a fantasy world require multiple manuscripts? Does a dystopian world beg to be spartan or truncated?


Published by Kurt Gailey

This is where I'm supposed to brag about how I've written seven novels, twelve screenplays, thousands of short stories, four self-help books, and one children's early-reader, but I'd rather stay humble. You can find out about things I've written or follow my barchive (web archive, aka 'blog) at xenosthesia.com or follow me on twitter @kurt_gailey. I love sports and music and books, so if you're an athlete or in a band or you're a writer, give me a follow and I'll most likely follow you back. I've even been known to promote other people's projects.

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