what makes a really good story to me is one that do not want to end, that has unexpected twists and turns, that i can identify with, and it keeps me turning pages from beginning to end...i just don't want to put it down till i finish it...the characters are well developed, intriguing, and invite me into their world.
I'm attracted to a lot of different things, but I think characterization is probably the most important for me. If I feel interested or connected to the characters then I want to know what happens to them, even if the plot is not filled with twists and turns. When characters feel like real people and I find myself wondering about the "rest" of their story and what they would do in other situations, that is a good story.
Of course, any story where you NEED to know what happens next is a good one.
Well-drawn characters, a clever and (hopefully) unique plot, believable dialogue, comic relief, and a surprise ending (especially in a short story) will usually keep me reading from beginning to end.
It's absolutely got to have a well-developed, life-like character. Preferably more than one character who fits that description. Plots with twists are nice, but if I don't feel some sort of attachment to the character the plot doesn't matter to me. I could enjoy a plotless character sketch if it was well done.
Your thinking is in line with mine to a great degree. I love well developed characters, action, an intriguing plot, unexpected twists, and a strong ending that isn't necessarily happy. Sometimes it's hard to define what makes a good book, but any book that can draw me into the role of the main character will always great in my opinion.
The most simple mode of defining a good story, I think, is to say that a good story poses a question then leads you/the reader to the answer.
This method of story-telling is used across all kinds of literature, from genre fiction to the literary fiction.
Personally I think that a good story must contain many elements:
- A strong backbone i.e. someting that will induce the reader to read much more.
- A viable subject (in the case of what we call "a realist novel")
- Didactic characters (they represent a social stratum) versus mimetic characters ( they represent themselves)
- Round (complex psychology, interesting features) versus flat characters (secondary characters)
It is incontrovertible that, as catd1115 said, the most enthralling and pivotal thing is characterization. (besides it is also the opinion of the famous writer Virginia Woolf)
This answer is incomplete but I hope it will be useful.
A good plot, all sorts of characters, unexpected twists, flowing language and of course a bit of humour makes a good story ! There should be suspense so that the reader will want to read it in one sitting. Sidney Sheldon is one of my favourite authors who develops his story thus.