The Power of a Good Story
I hope the long winter of 2015 is winding down in your neck of the woods. I’m hopeful it is here…then again, it snowed last week. In March. In Dallas. If I start hearing about zombies, I won’t be surprised.
So, for today’s post, let’s start here:
I love these videos. The voice over is delightful, the advice is adorable, and there is a KITTEN. An ORANGE KITTEN! What’s interesting to note is…it’s a commercial. A darn good commercial, but a cat food commercial all the same.
Why is it that a commercial for a mid-lister cat food has more than 20M views on YouTube? Because it tells a good story. We’ll sit through an ad pitch if it’s entertaining or hits us where we live. Let me say that again: we’ll sit through a commercial if it tells a great story.
So, when I hear people complain about such-and-such being a bestseller despite problematic writing, I point you back to exhibit A. (Excluding Fifty Shades of Grey. I object to that book on about a dozen levels, including the fact that it glorifies an abusive relationship…but that’s a discussion for another day). If it’s an interesting, unique story told in a fun/different/emotionally-resonant way, readers can sometimes forgive the writing. Sometimes.
Now, am I arguing that craft isn’t important? NAY, says this grammar nerd. Nay, I say! What I am saying is that if you start with a good premise that you believe will capture the imagination of a group of people, and you work hard to find that group of people, you will likely have a winner (or at least well-reviewed book) on your hands.
What do you think? Is this right? Does story trump the elegance of the writing?