When The Story GRABS ON And Won't Let Go!

Friday, December 19, 2014

     Why is it that one story will grab your right from the beginning and another, although just as enjoyable, may not engage you until part way through? Is it the words? The characterizations? The story? The answer is not that simple.

     When, where, and if a story grabs a reader is a very subjective thing. A writer cannot predict a reader’s likes and dislikes or know where the reader is emotionally when they pick up the writer’s book. It’s safe to say that it won’t matter how good the story is if the writing isn’t up to snuff. So the answer, if there is one, is found somewhere in the middle of where good story, good writing and good characterizations meet up with the preferences and the mental and emotional state of the reader; nebulous at best.

     I’d been enjoying Comfort, a wonderful middle-grade novel written by Joyce Moyer Hostetter, a chapter or two at a time, stretching out the delight, until I reached Chapter 29. That’s when the words grabbed me and wouldn’t let go. That’s not to say there was anything wrong with the first 28 chapters, I did say I’d been enjoying the story, but something that happened in Chapter 29 made me sit down, first thing in the morning, when I didn't have time, and read it to the end.

     This experience got me to thinking about the manuscripts and books I’ve written. Has a reader ever felt that way about my work? Has anything, any word or character or situation buried in the chapters of a manuscript a Beta reader is currently pouring through, caught her attention? Is she laboring through it or savoring each word? And what about the agent who asked to see it? Agents reject quickly, right, one page and they can already tell if they like your writing style and your story? Has the agent even opened the requested email yet? Is she so engrossed that she’s shared it with colleagues and is putting a contract together? I can only hope.

     I've enjoyed many books without pulling an all-nighter. But let’s face it, if I spend five plus years of my life writing the next great American novel, I want to hear someone say, “The story grabbed me and I couldn't put it down.” That's what all writers want to hear, right? 

     What story or stories have your read recently that grabbed you? Can you put your finger on what made the difference?  I’d love to hear from you.

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Sandra’s adult novel in waiting is called, They Called Me Blue, the story of two brothers whose lives are changed forever when one disappears on the last Orphan Train to leave New York in 1929, and the other spends the next fifty years of his life searching for him. 

Two biographies written by Sandra Warren about nurses who served in the Persian Gulf War, When Duty Called: Even Grandma Had to Go and Hidden Casualties: Battles On The Home Front, are said to have those, "can't put it down," qualities. 


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Hi! I’m Sandra Warren, a writer with very eclectic writing tastes. I’ve been fortunate to have publications in multiple genres including children’s, gifted education, parenting, how to, poetry, journal, educational activity guides and biography as well as audio and video production. I'm a city gal recently transplanted to the mountains of NC where glorious mountain vistas inspire latest renderings.

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