Some Things I Know: Crafting a story worth telling

Whenever I have the privilege of doing a book reading or writing presentation, I always spend some time talking about the power of sharing your story. Everyone has a story, and everyone’s story is worth sharing, I say. I stand behind this. It is both true and important.

But in another way, it’s not true, right? Everyone has a story that has value in their own lives, within their own circle of humans. However, if you’re hoping to publish your story, to craft it into something marketable, the bar is a bit higher. And before you start down the long road of drafting it all out, editing it until your heart sweats and pitching it to agents, a good first step is to determine if your story is worth telling, not just to your friends and family, but to a larger audience of readers.

How can you know? To me, it comes down to two things: striking a balance between bizarre and relatable, and having a solid theme.

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Writing words that matter: “Everyone needs a god who looks like them”

I recently became the last person on the planet to read Sue Monk Kidd’s Secret Life of Bees, and fell in love with it in a way I haven’t fallen in love with a book in a long time. It was like discovering The Great Gatsby again for the first time, or To Kill a Mocking Bird, or A Prayer for Owen Meany. It became one of my favorite books, even before I’d read the last page.
As a writer, these experiences of falling in love with a book are particularly overwhelming. Not only is there excitement, infatuation and enjoyment, but also aspiration. I want to write like this. I want to make readers feel this way.

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