Wednesday, July 28, 2010

STORYTELLERS

As you know I recently blogged about needing to read some good books, after I kept choosing horrible ones. So, I went back to my rather unimpressive stack of books and noticed a pattern of sorts.

All my books were written by authors who are very good, even brilliant storytellers. Which explains why I only read the books of the select few authors I actually do like. Not all authors are very good storytellers, so when I find one I do like, I stick to their work. I don't care how fancy their writing techniques are or how broad their vocabulary is, if an author can't make me enjoy what I am reading then I won't read that authors book. This might sound simple to you but to me it's a revelation!

So I can see how most of us aspiring writers can get confused. We all want to be good writers, but how do we determine if we are good or not? Publishers? Agents? Are they really the ones to tell us if we are good or not? I don't think so. Because remember, they only go with authors who they feel will make them the most money or which project they personally feel more comfortable with. It is almost like a lucky draw. Just because you get turned down doesn't make you a bad writer. It just means you don't fit into their marketing strategy.

Now, my point. You can be a writer who makes a few grammar mistakes, but knows how to tell a story. The one who has readers hooked by the first paragraph and forces that reader to try and finish your book as fast as possible, because they want to know how your books ends. Or you can be the the writer who has perfect grammar and spelling. The writer who follows all the rules of writing to a T. But who doesn't really hook the writer. You go for audiences who want to feel intelligent and who will brag with the fact that they read your book. But did they live themselves into your story. Did they feel and understand the conflicts your characters faced? Did they feel themselves get excited when a big scene of conflict arose? I suppose a select few do both. Have great story telling abilities and great grammar, writing techniques and all that other stuff, but most don't.

No? To me a good storyteller is the most essential thing. I want to escape. I want to live in the world you created. I want to sympathize with your characters. I want to believe in the impossible. If you can achieve that then to me you are a good, even a great writer. And through personal experience I have noticed that not all published authors are good storytellers.

What does it boil down to? If you can't tell a good story, I don't read your work. Life is hard enough. I don't need a dictionary to decipher a book and I wont force myself to read a book I don't enjoy. I don't care how stupid that makes me sound. I studied for 19 years of my 24 year old life. I am finished with trying to be smart. I am all about reading for enjoyment.

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