I want to be a writer, not just a writer, but a best-selling novelist. Many aspire to that lofty, albeit lonely dream. People blog daily to hone their craft, they self-publish, submit countless queries to publishing houses, send articles to magazines with the hope of publication, participate in writing contests, read numerous books on writing to work on their skills. Why? They do it for the love of writing, word-smithing, storytelling and ultimately sharing it with others. What drives that desire in so many of us, setting wannabe writers apart from say, an aspiring accountant, is a whole lot of determination and a little bit of blind enthusiasm.
There are good writers and then there are gifted storytellers. When the two come together then there’s magic! Recently, I’ve been reading the classics, the public domain ones mainly since I can download those for free on my iPhone. It’s rekindled my love of reading. Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series and Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight saga all have one thing in common; they’re great STORIES. It could be debated whether or not they’re great works of prose, but each are great stories none the less.
You can be an MFA, a published author or even have a job where you write every day but that doesn’t make you a best-selling author. Even if an author puts all the right words in the right order and follows all the grammar rules, it still doesn’t make them a good storyteller. That’s the difference, it’s the story; the believability, the creativity, the colorful descriptions that make readers relate to the characters, giving them a plausibility and a camaraderie with the reader. Plot notwithstanding, the “show it, don’t tell it” philosophy makes the story come alive.
That is what reviewers look for in fiction work; the next best-seller, the make-me-swoon with a good tale regardless of the genre. Anyone can read a romance novel and either enjoy it or hate it but a story told by a truly gifted storyteller can be any genre, have anyone or anything as the hero. If the story is told the way a story should be told, it will come to life and organically become the next best-seller, the next big classic.
Regardless of the vehicle used to read a good book, I’ll say again, Readers Unite!
M. Chris Johnson