The trait most stories share

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 27, 2021

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A writing teacher asked her eighth-grade students to think about all the stories they’d read during the school year. She then asked them what single trait all the good stories shared.

The students offered many different answers. Some said each story had a hero or heroine. Others said most stories had a satisfying conclusions. A few remarked that most good stories offered messages.

The teacher complimented all the answers, then replied: “You have made some great points. But the one trait nearly all memorable stories share is that each points out a problem, and proposes a solution.

“The tension — the excitement — from the story comes from the problem cited, and how each main character chooses to address that problem.”


Rix Quinn is a former magazine editor and now a syndicated columnist for over 100 weekly newspapers. Reach him at