Story is superior to sleep.
Thanks to the lovely Amazon gift card I received for Christmas, I was reminded of this truth in the other day. Or should I say wee hours of the morning. A good story will keep me up long past when I know I should be asleep, and two have done so this week. I recently finished The Spirit Well by Stephen Lawhead and Theft of Swords by Michael J. Sullivan. Once taken up, I had great difficulty putting either of them down. Which is why I finished in less than a week.
While reading them, something else struck me as a reminder.
Story is superior to all when it comes to a book.
Now before you throw tomatoes and say craft is important, etc, etc, I understand and agree. However, it was quite apparent in both stories that the author’s ignored obvious rules of the craft that would have annoyed certain critique-rs and been lambasted in some critique groups. Had I submitted them as my own to a general critique loop, I know I would have received some serious red ink.
Stephen Lawhead is a successful writer many times over, and one of the most recognized names in the Christian Fantasy genre. Yet, he hopped heads (in the same scene) throughout The Spirit Well. He used dialogue tags with adverbs on many occasions when an action beat or simple “said” would have “been better”. Some people who did the Blog Tour for the book pointed this out as well. Maybe it’s because he’s been writing so long that his style predates the more modern rules of writing intimately close to the character?
Yet Michael Sullivan, another highly successful writer, did the same. He head hopped, although less than Lawhead. There was an early flashback where the point-of-view character used “had” a total of 14 times in two paragraphs.
While the Bright Empires series by Lawhead is not my favorite of his, both his book and Sullivan’s kept me pushing the button for the next page on my kindle. How is this possible?
Because story is king.
Some would say you can’t have a good story without good writing. I say rubbish. A story is either awesome or not.
Now storytelling … that’s a different … erm story.
Even a great story will appear awful with bad storytelling. But amazing stories trump a few broken rules. Good stories can’t afford to do that. With so many people out there writing these days, that leaves two options. Dream up an amazing story or work like the dickens to tell a good story the best way. Either way, the story better be great.
So, where does that leave me at the end of 2012? If I had the full answer to that, I’d be published For now, I know I want to hone my craft as best I possibly can to tell the stories I’m working on the best way I possibly can. But I also want to find those great ideas. I’m gonna keep writing, keep learning, keep exploring, and keep dreaming. The rest? Well we’ll see what 2013 brings!