What Makes a Good Story

An Online Treasure Hunt

 For First Year High School (English)


Who among us doesn’t enjoy a good story? Whether the story is written, told orally, or shown as a movie, if it’s a good one, then most people would certainly enjoy it.

But what do we mean by a good story? When is a story good? What makes a story work?

There are five basic elements to a short story: setting, character, plot, point of view, and theme. But how do these elements work together to make a story? Let’s find out through this activity.

The rules are simple: Working in groups of four, you will look for the answers to the questions below in the websites given (under “Resources”). Read the questions and websites carefully. Write down your answers and be ready to discuss these with the rest of the class. Afterwards, answer the Big Question. Be sure to work as a team.


1.   How do we find out about the characters of a short story? Or how do we get to know them?
   Is the character foil the same as the antagonist? Explain your answer.
   Does it matter whose point of view a story is told from? Explain your answer.
   Is the theme of a story always the moral of the story? Explain your answer.
   It is said that setting is important in some stories but not in others. Which is the case for the story, “The Cyborg Sitter”? Explain your answer.
   What is the relationship between the conflict and the plot? Or how are conflict and plot related to each other?
   Can a story begin with the climax? How would the story unfold if it began with the climax? You may cite an example (such as a movie) to support your answer.


Elements of a Short Story

Short Story Elements

Analyzing Theme

Constructing Plot

Point of View

Literary Elements (Character)

Sample Short Story: “The Cyborg Sitter”

The Big Question

Read the story “The Sacrifice” by Celso Carunungan in your textbook. Analyze the story by answering the following questions:

1.      Who is the protagonist of the story? The antagonist?
2.      Are the characters consistent and motivated in their actions? Are they believable? Are they simple or complex, static or dynamic? Cite examples from the story to prove your answers.
3.      What is/are the conflict/s in the story? Is/Are the conflict/s physical, intellectual, moral, emotional?
4.      What is the story’s theme? Or what message is the story trying to communicate?
5.      How do the various events in the story complicate the action or resolve it?
6.      Is the ending happy, unhappy, ambiguous, open or closed? Was it a surprise, an unconventional ending? How does the ending relate to the theme: does it make the theme stronger or weaker?
7.      From whose point of view is the action seen? Is the point of view omniscient, first person, or objective? Are there shifts in point of view in the story and if so, why?
8.      Is the setting important to the plot, or could the story have happened anywhere? Explain your answer.

In doing this analysis of “The Sacrifice”, you will continue to work as a group. To make sure everybody has a contribution, why not divide the questions above among yourselves (two questions per group member)? Answer the questions individually and then meet to discuss your answers and to make sure that everyone agrees. Then finalize your analysis and submit it to your teacher. You have two days to do this assignment. \

Authored by M. Bordaje, L. Cardenas, and P. Arinto