Greetings, writers! Today I have the pleasure of introducing a prolific and talented—and multi-published—author: Velda Brotherton. I have asked Velda to write something about what “The Joy of Story” means to her. I know you’ll enjoy reading what Velda has to say.
The Joy of Story, by Velda Brotherton
My dad was a storyteller. He never wrote down a word, but he kept in his memory stories from his youth and delighted in telling them. One of the main reasons, I'm sure, was that his life was filled with adventure. He had three brothers and their mother passed away when he was sixteen, the eldest of the four boys. They followed their dad on jobs in the oil fields of Texas and Oklahoma. Both parents had Cherokee blood, and though that was looked down upon by the elder family members in those days, the boys were very proud of it. He often said they grew up like "wild Indians." Casting no aspersions at all. He enjoyed the role and loved his heritage.
Some people are meant to be the keepers of the story for their family. Writers also have the same role. We are the keepers of stories, both truth and fiction, for don't we develop our stories from the truth that's remembered? I think my dad being a storyteller had a lot to do with my growing up to be a writer. I made up stories in my mind as long as I can remember, tales of wild adventures in which I was always the central character. The hero. And don't we all want to be the hero? Therein lies the true joy of story. Heroic acts performed by ordinary people. Those years I sometimes thought I might be a little crazy daydreaming those tales. I didn't know at the time that all over the world, other writers were developing their craft by doing the same thing.
Stories carried down through generations are what makes it possible for us to write historical fiction. Most of the nonfiction columns I wrote for 20 years for local newspapers came from oral history repeated to me by family members who kept those stories alive. Stories passed down to them by fathers, grandfathers, and great-grandfathers. Such tales make up much of what we know about our history. And then there are journals and diaries kept by the women of the family. While men tell their stories, women tend to write theirs down. Those diaries help us write our stories of mothers, sisters, aunts, and wives.
Most publishers are aware of the value of story, too. If they receive two manuscripts of equal writing skills, they will choose the one with the better story. Often, the better story with lesser writing skills will win out over a perfect manuscript with a weaker story line. So it's important that we develop good, solid stories because without them our writing skills may come to nothing in the marketplace.
What makes a good story? Strong but flawed characters, unusual and fascinating settings, tidbits of back story (character's history), intriguing and twisting plots and subplots, and most of all that well distinguished voice we hear so much about. All editors look for a special and unique voice. But there's something else, isn't there? Something difficult to put words to. When we as readers open a book, we feel an excitement much like that of opening a gift. What will we find? Where will the author take us? Who will we go with? What will we discover? There's a promise of adventure, learning, experiencing new and different things. Take me somewhere I've never been with someone so wonderful I'll hang onto their hand as they lead me through this truly unusual experience. A new, shiny world, or one so frightening I shiver, or so delightful I giggle, or so horrible I cringe, or so unique I can't wait to tell others about it. This is the promise of a good story.
There's evidence that readers value good stories over all else. Just look at the best sellers today. Some of them are not that well written, but something resonates in the story that attracts millions of readers to buy the book.
So, should we neglect our writing skills in favor of good stories? Of course not. The best writer should produce both and do it with pride of accomplishment. I don't want to be the writer of whom it is said, "Well, the writing is lousy but it sure was a good story." Do you?
About our guest…
Velda Brotherton writes of romance in the old west with an authenticity that makes her many historical characters ring true. A knowledge of the rich history of our country comes through in both her fiction and nonfiction books, as well as in her writing workshops and speaking engagements. She just as easily steps out of the past into contemporary settings to create novels about women with the ability to conquer life’s difficult challenges. Tough heroines, strong and gentle heroes, villains to die for, all live in the pages of her novels and books.
A Sample of Velda’s writing:
Here's a short excerpt from Wolf Song, a paranormal mystery/romance ebook published by SynergEbooks and available on Amazon as well.
Olivia finds a terrifying surprise, a warning to stop supporting the Gray Wolf Restoration Program by the U.S. Fish and Game:
“With shaking fingers, I twisted the knob on the lock and eased the door open. Still not turning the flashlight on, I held the screen open just far enough to slide through the crack. Back against the house so no one could sneak up on me, I flicked the light on and began to sweep it back and forth across the porch. Nothing, nothing, more nothing. Then the beam moved to the swing, and lying in the still-swaying seat, blood-smeared teeth bared in final agony, lay a half-grown gray wolf.”
That’s good writing! Story-telling at its best. (Great cover, too.) You’ll want to read more, and here’s how:
Buy Link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00738WMSU