Friday, November 29, 2013

Tell A Good Story

There are some stories that you will always remember. Stories that connect with you in such a way that they are with you always. The details may have grown blurred with time, but the tale still lives on in your mind. Some of these appeal to grand audience of millions, but then there are those that appeal to a small nucleus of avid devotees. Of course, the other side of that coin are those stories that fail in this.

I took my son to the Central Library here in the fair city of Indianapolis the other day. By the world standards, it is not the largest of collections. Yet, the gallery of books is substantial enough to give any writer pause. I stood gazing about as my son went from stack to stack looking for his favorites. He is five, so the selection process is largely down to him pulling out books with robots and/or dinosaurs on the cover. All those books. All those authors who put their heart and soul into these pages and this is just the children's section. How many of these authors do I know anything about? How many of these books will spend their shelf life in these stacks without ever being pulled from the shelf? I consider myself reasonably well read, but I know that there are some - no, many - authors who I will never read. For me, it is not enough just to get published. I do not want to be one of the obscure and seldom read authors. So, how do get beyond the dust gathering jacket?

Tell a good story.

I can't bullet the "Five Things That Make A Great Story" because, in truth, there is no way to know what will catch someone's imagination. You can have all the technical expertise of the entire Oxford Dictionary's editorial staff or have a writing style that is beyond critical reproach; but if you don't manage to capture the reader's attention, then you have failed. There are lists out there in the 'Verse that will purport to tell what you need to do, but that won't do it for you. There are even authors who follow such formulae who produce novels on regular basis using this method. Yet, do you remember these stories?

I have read a great number of the classics. A Tale of Two Cities, Robinson Crusoe, The Great Gatsby and The Complete Works of William Shakespeare all sit upon my shelves with worn bindings and dog-eared pages. They share space in my own personal library with Harry Potter, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Hobbit  and The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant. There are others, but these are the ones that come readily to mind as I write this. And there it is. The answer to my question. All of these stories come easily to me because they never truly left. There is a connection made between them and my imagination that has, in a way, stood it's own test of time.

1 comment:

  1. So right, Mike. A good story will always remain around for the ages!