As I’ve launched my editing business, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about story and its importance in writing. It’s honestly a shame that the concept of “story” often gets relegated to a fiction-only space. Telling a story, delivering a narrative, is just as important in creative non-fiction, academic writing, how-to, marketing, business, informational, and any other kind of technical writing you can think of, as it is in fiction.
What is “story”? The first thing that comes to mind for most people (it did for me) is exactly what dictionary.com describes in its first definition of the word–“accounts of imaginary people or events told for entertainment.” This, unsurprisingly, strictly focuses on story as fiction. I found the second definition far more helpful in unveiling what good storytelling does in writing: “an account in the evolution of something.”
It’s the word “evolution” that stands out to me.
Stories evolve. A good story starts at one, simple point and develops gradually into something more complex, bringing the reader along for the journey. This does not happen only in creative writing. Evolution is important in all forms of writing. An academic essay sets out to prove something to its reader; over the course of the piece, a thesis evolves through each successive proof, turning something simple into something more complex. Even a car’s manual tells a story–it lays out the basics of car maintenance and builds on them until the reader can understand more complex concepts.
Story is present. It is deliberate. And it needs to be cultivated. If that car manual doesn’t start by explaining simpler concepts, the reader is left confused and frustrated. If an academic paper doesn’t evolve a logical path to its conclusion, it won’t be taken seriously.
If you’re writing anything, you have a story to tell; and good storytelling is far more difficult to pull off than you might think. Creating good story–good writing–takes practice, but it’s not something impossible to learn. I encourage you to start seeing story in the world around you, so that when you need to tell a story of your own, you will know what to look for.
Julia Vanishes by Catherine Egan Genre: Fantasy, YA 4 stars.
The title of this book is unusual. It reads more like the heading of a tabloid article about a celebrity disappearance than a book title, which is unfortunate as this book is neither tabloid nor about a celebrity disappearance. It is so much better than that, weaving elements of Victorian mystery with folklore and myth in a well-developed, ever-expanding world where witches born with the ability to write magic into being are drowned, strange, possibly-wolfmen are locked in basements, but regular girls like Julia should not be able to vanish.
The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow Genre: Historical Fantasy 3 stars
I love historical fantasy. Particularly Regency/Victorian/Edwardian era fantasy. Give me magic and wizards and worlds colliding with our own and you don’t need to ask me twice to read. When I first stumbled upon Alix E. Harrow’s AMA on Reddit, I was so excited that I immediately ordered her book. The cover is gorgeous, the title intriguing, and historians are often fantastic novelists because the two mediums are so intertwined.
Hello lovely readers! I’m finally at a point in this project where I can make this announcement!
I have started a freelance editing business! It’s called Songbird Editing, which is a play on my new last name (I got married in July to my wonderful husband Mike) and I also just think it’s adorable.
Editing is something I have wanted to get in to for a long time, but never found the appropriate avenue. Right out of college it seemed an impossible industry to break into, so I taught English in China for a few years, before settling back in Michigan working administrative jobs. While I have learned a lot about the corporate world (and how to run a business), assistant-ing is not my passion. But writing, reading, and storytelling has always been.
I am a natural born critic (when I was 12 I would critique the rom-coms my friends and I watched, much to their chagrin) so it was simple to create a book blog because I was already doing that for fun. I also have a BA in English Literature, was an editor for multiple literary magazines, worked for my campus’s writing center, and have done my fair share of beta reading for published authors. This seemed the next appropriate step.
I am so thankful to have had a few clients now (while still working full time) and I have never been so excited for work as when I am editing!
Thank you all for coming on this journey with me and don’t hesitate to let me know if you or a friend needs copyediting, proofreading, or content editing done for a novel, article, blog, or anything else word related.
A School for Brides by Patrice Kindl
Genre: Historical Fiction
If there was a book written with my exact brand of whimsy in mind, it was A School for Brides by Patrice Kindl. Regency era women looking for husbands in a location with no men? Heavy handed allusions to Jane Austen? Convenient plot devices to throw men into the girls’s paths? Sign me up! Continue reading “A School for Brides by Patrice Kindl”→
And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
This was my first Agatha Christie book. I have somehow gone 27 years of my life without reading a single line by her. What a page turner! I honestly couldn’t put it down. For the first time, I understood why Christie is considered one of the best mystery authors of all time. Not only was she prolific, but her mysteries are legitimately thrilling.
One fateful evening, ten people with seemingly no connection arrive on an island. As one by one, the guests start dying, it becomes clear that their mysteriously absent host knows more about them than they bargained for–and he will not rest until they are all dead. Continue reading “And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie”→