It’s been a discussion on several different platforms lately. What is it that makes a reader ignore the obvious problems and gush about a story?
What is it that takes a story from good to great?
If I knew for sure, I’d be writing like that all the time. Well, I am, but it’s about as easy as knowing the answer and putting it into practice without any understanding of language.
What is the answer? It’s simple. I’m going to tell you (as so many other people have said before me).
It’s about writing with a sense of joy and passion for that germ that needs to become a story. It’s about being so involved with the way it comes about and breathes that it takes the writer out of space and time to exist in only the story.
Remember Treasure Island? I do. I can almost relive it at will because it was exciting enough to live in, to be completely involved in the story. Every time I read the story, it’s a breathless read from start to finish. I love that sense of wonder and joy in the adventure.
Lawrence Block has mentioned it (he may have spoken about Stephen King as a lover of the effect of being scared); Ray Bradbury is another one with the same effect – the joy of being in the story. Not that these examples weren’t good at the craft, but they were better at the sense within the story.
Joy, passion, compulsion. That’s what it takes.
There are many times I hear (and say) that ‘Good grammar does not a good story make’. It’s a silly thing to say because good grammar can make a good story many times better. An understanding of craft (and grammar is just that, along with spelling and lots of other stuff) is important, but not as critical as that spark of joy that ignites the writer with passion and drive to partake of the moment within that ember of story.
That’s what makes a good story great.
A writer who puts so much of their own emotional being into the context and shape of the story – whether a dream or a wish or a fear.
Simple, isn’t it? *wanders off down the street cackling wildly, nodding the head like a mad galah*
My best stories (in my opinion) are the ones that fly from mind to page without too much thought (they may come from experience of things, memories, dreams, wishes …). There may be a lot of work undertaken after this, but even in the rough they get good responses. Passion in all things creates moments that live in the memory forever.