What makes a story great? Think of your favorite movie, or book, why are you attracted to that specific tale? Is it the characters? Are they so intriguing or diabolical, that you have to continue to watch until the very end to find out what happens?

Or is simply the plot, or the setting? Is the world so dynamic, or profound, that you have to keep watching to see how the author or screenwriter, depicts the majesty of it?

Maybe it’s a morality tale, one that tugs at your heart and makes you cry, makes you feel for all that are involved. Perhaps you learn something, and can take something away from the genius prose.

Whatever keeps you watching, or reading, there has to be something that charges you up, something that keeps your attention. As an author it is something I strive for whenever I sit to put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, nowadays.

To me the greatest stories are those that keep you coming back. My wife told me the other day that she prefers television to movies, because television is fresh, it’s new, it’s not something she’s ever seen before.

That’s great, and I respect her opinion, but I have to disagree. I prefer stories that keep me coming back. Stories that I can still watch, or read and enjoy. Stories that have underlying meanings that I didn’t catch the first fifteen times I’ve watched, or read them.

I prefer the depth of characters. Although storyline is great, and useful, I love the people. Will the protagonist get out of what he/she is trying to escape from? Will they find a way to defeat the antagonist? Can I relate to them? What they are going through? Is it something I have had to overcome in my own life?

There are so many different ways to tell a story. Whether it be fantasy, sci-fi, a love story, or a book about baseball J, if the story challenges you, sticks with, and can stand the test of time, then the story is great.

The best authors can twist a tale, and, or its character’s in ways that blow your mind. In ways that keep you on the edge of your seat, turning page after page. And when it all ends, you’re upset that there isn’t more. See getting to know characters is like getting to know people. People you actually think exist, at least until the story ends. Then all you have to go off of, is the memory.

What makes a story great? It’s up to your own interpretation. But in my world, characters are the story. They are why people care.

Take a look at the picture above, it is a photo I took while fly fishing. Whoever writes the most compelling story regarding that picture, will get a free signed copy of my book “Paint the Black.” If you already own a copy, I will send a free copy of my next novel, when it hits stores in February 2016. Attach your story here.