The Perfect Story: Is There One?

typewriter edie dot net

I GUESS IT is impossible. Isn’t it? The perfect story?

I’m referring to books. But you know the first thing that popped into my head? – Goodfellas. Martin Scorcese will never top that for pure story telling, characters, dialogue and pacing. Possibly the greatest film ever made. When I think of the perfect book, I’m struggling a little. George Orwell’s, 1984, is still the most impactful book I’ve ever read. The Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling are magical, untouchable children’s stories.

Books cannot deliver the same visual visceral experience that film can however. You imagine: you don’t see. You read: you don’t watch (passively). As film uses more of our senses, it has an unfair advantage over the novel. So writers really have to slam it into a mythical seventh gear to convey the story, the characters, the plot, the suspense, the dialogue, the twists and every other fine aspect, in order to tell a compelling story that will be remembered always. In many ways the novel is constricted. Continuing the film analogy, what you see in one frame might take pages to convey in a book, maybe even chapters.

To be honest, movie makers are cheating. They have your eyes captive and can embellish the story simultaneously with music, mis en scene (posh talk for the setting), and any number of flourishes from the colour of someones clothing to the look in an actors eyes. One scene can tell us A LOT. The humble author has to do that through words only. It’s like painting a picture with one colour, yet somehow making that picture colourful, unique and remarkable.

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z < That, is all a writer has to work with: 26 letters. Pretty incredible. I didn’t mean to turn this post into a Writers .VS. Film Makers match up. But then again, people forget: what’s a film without a script?

Character. Plot. Suspense. Readability. Dialogue. Realism/ Fantasy. Twists. Drama. What makes up your perfect story? Have you read one? Is there one?

14 Comments

  1. being a gangster is better than being president of the united states…& probably go with something by dr. suess…it is lasting- and can inspire- yet has depth…and is at its foundation teaching many to read…

    1. Or is the president a gangster?
      Dr.Seuss, interesting choice. I think some kids books are more perfect in many ways than novels. And if kids love a book that speaks volumes, thats mega. Something has happened on a very human level.

  2. Actually, my favorite, and probably the only one where I will never forget a single plot point in, is L.E. Modesitt Jr’s “Gravity Dreams”

    That book has stayed with me for years, and one of only a few that I can read time and time again without losing interest.

  3. The perfect story is highly subjective and depends on the individual and that’s what makes it great. Your perfect story will be different from mine. For me, a story that stays with you long after you close the book is the perfect story. Where you can sit and relive what your read. To create a world with only your words is a true gift.

    1. Very true. Everyone has a different one. But sometimes there are timeless ones such as 1984.
      And remembering, reliving the story long afterwards is the key really, when that happens a story has really captured us.

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