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.
This week’s Top Ten (5) Tuesday prompt was to focus on something back to school or learning related. In my opinion, books are always (usually) learning related, but I decided to take a step beyond my regular fantasy/historical fiction reads and focus on the non-fiction books I loved (that still have to do with history of course). Continue reading “Top Ten Tuesday: Memoirs and other Non-Fiction”→
Wow. I spent this past weekend at Book Con in NYC and as a first timer I was completely overwhelmed. But it was also SO MUCH FUN. I wasn’t expecting the sheer amount of people, of insanity, of waiting in line, or the plethora of FREE ARC’s I was privy too. Not only that, but the connections you make with other readers, with other aspiring authors, and, as a blogger, with publicists was beyond my wildest dreams. I drove down to NYC from Michigan with Sierra of Quest Reviews and Laura of Laura Luna Books and we had an absolute blast finding other people like us. So, there will be a more comprehensive post on Book Con sometime in the next week, but for now I wanted to focus on the incredible haul I acquired in the two days of Book Con.
The Seventh Tower series by Garth Nix
Genre: Fantasy, middle-grade
I cannot even BEGIN to describe how much of an impact this series has had on me. I read them for the first time when I was ten-years-old and reread them countless times in the following months. Everything I wrote between the ages of 10-12 followed some sort of theme from the Seventh Tower–whether it was bad-ass blonde warrior chicks, planets of ice, shadow magic, or mystic warrior cults (though that was also influenced by my excessive reading of the Star Wars: Jedi Apprentice novels). Even today I find my stories tinged with Garth Nix’s influence. Continue reading “The Seventh Tower Series by Garth Nix”→
Genre: Thriller, mystery
3.5 stars because of the ending, otherwise I would have given this a four.
Interesting read and an excellent use of an unreliable narrator. The book was well written, well paced, so that the reveals didn’t seem to come from no where, but weren’t too expected either. However, the ending was entirely cliche and expected, and it rendered a greater part of the book and it’s exploration of certain characters pointless. And really? We get an epic bad guy monologue at the end that makes no sense? The first 3/4 of the book were riveting because of the mystery, but also because of how trapped we became in the narrators’s minds. The ending, however, did not live up to not only the hype of the “amazing twist” I’d been promised, but also the first 3/4 of the novel.
Genre: Historical fantasy, sci-fi, fairy tale — not quite sure what to classify this as.
I really liked the concept behind this book: exploring seven different stories, each further back in time than the one before, slowly connecting more dots as to why what is happening in the first story happens. I have always been fascinated with history and its interaction with the world as we know it. I enjoyed that aspect. Also, Vikings, which is one of my loves. Continue reading “Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgewick”→
I have very mixed feelings about this book. Part of me wants to give it four stars, but most of me wants to give it three stars.
The book was generally well written, it was dark, disturbing, incestuous, and grew darker and more disturbing with every page. But I also think it did not do a believable job of dealing with how incredibly messed up the Creswell siblings would be if they really grew up the way they did. There were moments when I felt this family and their horrific story were done justice, but Castley’s revelation and sudden change of heart at the end were too fast and furious. Continue reading “The Cresswell Plot by Eliza Wass”→
I think what disappointed me most about this book was that the premise is so compelling, yet it was so poorly executed. The idea of time travel using maps is one of the most fascinating world building ideas I’ve encountered recently. Yet, with all that potential, it fell sadly flat. It seems like Heilig took strands of development for both her world and her characters, and never saw them through to the end. Continue reading “The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig”→