567 Ways To Tell A Better Story

English: The church of St Martha-on-the-Hill i...

English: The church of St Martha-on-the-Hill in Surrey, England. The church is dated to the 12th century and is dedicated to Saint Martha (sister of Mary & Lazarus.) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Most people consider it bad form to slap a priest or pull a rabbi’s beard. They aren’t real keen on your telling Sister Mary that she has a rack that was made for sin and or suggesting that you can help her see god.

In theory these should be things that would get you in a lot of trouble but some of us have a silver tongue and manage to find ways to convince people that what we have done really wasn’t all that bad. The thing is that some of us find it impossible to accept that we got away with something so we keep pushing the envelope because we can’t help but wonder where that line in the sand is going to be drawn.

Well let me help you with that. You can’t kick the rabbi’s dog nor can you take Sister Mary’s cat and throw it in a swimming pool…without consequences that is. Sure, you can try. You can claim that the little rat dog tried to bite you and maybe get away with that, but you can’t convince Sister Mary that you were trying to give Whiskers a bath.

That is because no one bathes a cat by stuffing it into a sack and then throwing it into a swimming pool. It just isn’t done, but then again most people can’t say that they slept with Sister Mary either. But I am not most people and I know Sister Mary in the biblical sense of the word.

So you see I am not lying when I say that I can make Sister Mary see God because I have done it…many times and in lots of different places. My favorite place was always in church. You might think that church would have a negative impact upon Sister Mary and her ability to perform, but the exact opposite was true.

The last time we did it Father Pete almost walked in us. I told Sister Mary that would have made one hell of a confession. She laughed and then demanded that we do it in a synagogue. I am a good Jewish boy so I made a point to help her feel like I was an equal opportunity fornicator. Didn’t matter to me whether it was in church or synagogue- either place was good for me.

567 Ways To Tell A Better Story

I suppose that you have figured out that those words above do not contain 567 ways to tell a better story.  Truth is that when I started writing I had no idea where I was going or what I intended to do with the tale I was telling.

I just knew that I wanted to participate in Just Write #36  and Yeah Write #58.  So I figured that I would open up the old melon and see what came spilling out. I thought about using 7 Things You Never Say To Mean Moms as my Yeah Write entry. I figured that most of the participants would be familiar with mean girls, but I couldn’t do that this time.

Nor did I want to run with A Letter To My Children-2012 because it was too serious. What Is The Value of A Comment? didn’t work because it was a good post that stood on its own. I almost used I Wish Some Of You Would Just Shut Up because I think many people can relate but then I decided I wanted to just write and see what happens.

And here we are.

A Better Story

I kind of like the story I started this post with and I hope that you do too. I hope you do because it provides validation that I am on the write track, but I am pretty confident. A good story doesn’t have to be original. People keep saying that they really like this tale and there is nothing unusual about it. It is just a story about a boy who loved a girl and the girl who once loved him back.

People like those stories. They want to know if the single mom and single dad can find love again. More importantly they want to know if lightning strikes twice.

The reason that story works is because they identify with the characters. They know what it means to suffer heartbreak and to love so deeply it hurts. The moms and dads who read this like the comfort it provides because there is something nice about knowing that maybe there is a chance that the one who got away might come back again.

But the motor that moves this monster isn’t love or the idea of being in love. It is the ability to relate to the characters as a whole. When Jack says he aches and he burns for Ann people get it and even if they don’t they wish they did.

To be fair not everyone likes those stories. Some of them hate it, but even those who do can follow the story. They can relate to some portion and or piece of it because it is a human experience and that is what people are looking for.

People love the Lord of the Rings because there is a world of magic and mystery. They like to imagine what it would be like to be with the elves in Rivendell but the real thing that captures their attention are the characters and the relationship between them.

If you want your readers to love your stories find a way to build those connections and to show the relationships between your characters. Set a scene that provides enough detail for their imagination to picture it and then get out of the way.

What do you think?


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