We all know it is a top priority to learn to write well. Honing your craft and knowing the nuts and bolts of crafting words is key. But and this is a biggie—if you are not a good storyteller, no one will buy your book. (This includes non-fiction. Dry as toast academia sells to a small niche.)
We worry about how well we’ve learned the craft because other writers are going to be reading it. We rely on their input. (As we should.) The bottom line, however, is the reader. They are not going to judge you for your POV, backstory, whether you have prologue or how often you use -ly words. Many readers will forgive those errors if the story is compelling.
They are going to judge you on how well you tell a story.
Did you keep them reading?
Did they laugh out loud or use a box of tissue.
Were they entertained, challenged or inspired.
Did your prose resonate with them?
Was it the perfect weekend read?
Could they feel their heart racing?
Did they experience a new world unlike their own?
Were the characters’ problems so familiar they read to seek a solution for themselves.
Few readers want to read to cotton candy and sunshine stories where nothing happens and all the characters are sweet and their toughest decision is what to have for dinner. You know it’s true. Be honest. Listening to your seatmate on a four-hour flight extoll the virtues of their perfect family for the length of the flight gets tedious if not boring. Imagine if her tale involved running away from an abusive relationship or going into witness protection. Wouldn’t that be more interesting? Ok, total strangers sharing their personal information would set your Weird meter off in real life. But in the pages of a book you can feel free to hang on to every word.
A good storyteller takes real life struggles and brings them home to their readers. A she-really-gets-what-I’m-going- through moment keeps them turning pages. A gifted humorist can take the mundane, the ordinary, and craft it into something unforgettable.
How are your story telling skills?
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