The Power of a Good Story

Howdy Peeps!

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?

3 comments

  • Absolutely! I can give a good story a lot of leeway were grammar and spelling are concerned – I just want to know what happens!!
    That being said, I will never give one of those stories all five stars. I may only knock off one star, but I will mention that is because of the quality of writing.

  • If there are a lot of mistakes in a book, my eyes constantly focus on those and the story gets shifted to the side. Plus, if the writing doesn’t flow (at all), I find that I can’t enjoy it as much. If it’s an Exceptional (yes, with a capital E) story, I can overlook bad writing. Otherwise, I simply can’t enjoy it.

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