Characters, obstacles, rewards — those are keys to even lousy stories, Tommy Tomlinson writes at Nieman Storyboard: "What the story’s about is literally what happens in the narrative — who this character is, what goal he or she is trying to reach, what obstacle is in the way. The unique set of facts. What the story’s REALLY about is a way of saying, what’s the point? What’s the universal meaning that someone should draw from this story? What’s the lesson?"