In Others' WordsIn Others' Words

Thursday, August 11, 2011

In My Words: The Love of Story & How It Should Affect Your Writing

My husband Rob and I went on a double-date last night, with our daughter, Katie Beth, and our new son-in-love, Nate. We went to The Melting Pot for dinner. Ah, the joys of fondue! And, since this was Nate's first time at the restaurant, it was even more fun to watch him enjoy everything from the  Traditional Swiss and Wisconsin Trio Cheese fondues (first course) to the Flaming Turtle and Yin and Yang Chocolate fondues.
Even better than the shopping and the first-time experience for Nate and the food?
The conversation.
And here's the point of this blog. (It really isn't  about double-dating.)
Our nonstop conversation centered on stories. Remember this ... and Does Nate know about ... and Oh, you don't know about what happened when mom had a kidney stone when she was 8 1/2 months pregnant ... (true story) and Tell Mom and Dad about the time you ...
Last night, as we savored fondue, we loved telling and listening to stories.
People love stories.
We enjoy sharing stories, whether we are the one telling the story or we are listening to someone else recount the who, what, where, when, why and how of the story.
And this fundamental truth--that people love stories--is why we write.
How should this truth affect us as we plot and write and revise our works-in-progress (WIPs)? Ask yourself:
1. Why do you love stories? Sharing stories connects me with friends and family. It's a kind of verbal give and take that bonds people together through memories wrapped in laughter and tears.
2. What kind of stories grab your attention? When someone's talking, what do they say that makes you forget all about that piece of cheesecake waiting to be dunked in the pot of chocolate fondue? When someone opens up and shares from the heart, giving me a glimpse of what they value, that's when they have my undivided attention.
3. When do you disconnect from others' stories? I have stories. You have stories. And yet we've probably all been around someone who thinks she (or he) is the only one who has a worthwhile story to share. So she monopolizes the conversation.When this happens, I mentally tune in to another station.

Now take these three questions and apply them to your writing:

  • Why do you love stories? Is it because you feel connected with others? When you write your novel, are you crafting characters and scenes that your readers connect with and care about?
  • What kind of stories grab your attention? Are you staying on the surface or delving into heart issues or challenges that your readers are facing in their real-life world? If you want your readers undivided attention, write about reality.
  • When do you disconnect from stories? Does your story have depth? Or are they a one-character act--a monologue with minor characters who have little impact?
In Your Words: How does the truth People love stories affect your writing? Answer one, two or all three of the questions in the comment section! Looking forward to learning from you.

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At 3:27 AM, Blogger Jeanne T said...

What a wonderful post in so many ways, Beth! No, last night may not have been about the double date, but it's still really cool that you and Rob took your children out for a date. What a great way to build relationship.

Secondly, I was challenged by the three questions, and I need to use them in molding my characters, to add dimension to them. It got me to thinking what kinds of stories they may have to share in dialog with their friends and loved ones. Hmmmm. You are so right on when you say that we connect when a person shares a story that reveals more of him/herself. I'm all glued in on those stories. :)

At 3:35 AM, Blogger Beth K. Vogt said...

Good morning to you, Jeanne! I'm up late/early--and you are too!
I'm still mulling over the three questions too and how the answers would affect my WIP ... maybe we could brainstorm together?

At 9:22 AM, Blogger Reba J. Hoffman said...

Telling a knee-slappin', gut laughin' tall tale is better than swappin' howdies!
Great post. Jesus told stories all the time, and people were drawn in by those incredible stories. Lives can change forever by a story. That's the challenge and responsibility we have as authors.

At 9:28 AM, Blogger Beth K. Vogt said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 9:28 AM, Blogger Beth K. Vogt said...

I have this question posted in my office: Does my writing change people? And yes, Reba, this happens through sharing our stories ... and sometimes we share real life stories disguised as fiction.

At 9:48 AM, Blogger Keli Gwyn said...

Beth, I enjoy hearing about your daughter and son-in-love and the wonderful relationship you share with them. I think your evening out telling stories sounds like such fun. What a wonderful way to really get to know one another.

That's the experience I want when I read. I want to feel a connection to the characters, to care about what happens to them, and to rejoice with them when they overcome the many trials and challenges we novelists love to throw at them. And a few laughs along the way can be a real treat.

At 11:57 AM, Blogger Beth K. Vogt said...

I couldn't agree more, Keli! My all-time favorite books, the ones I can't put down, are the ones that draw me into other people's stories. It doesn't matter if the book is fiction or nonfiction. Tell me a story that I care about!

At 4:16 AM, Blogger Jeanne T said...

Let's do that, Beth! :)


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