|(Photo by Chris J. Fries - 2012: Sunset Swing)|
Driving home from work the other day, I was flipping through channels on the radio and caught a snippet from NPR's "All Things Considered". They were just finishing up a segment and asking for listener input for future entries, and something that the announcer casually said really grabbed a hold of me:
"...and it doesn't matter if it's funny or sad; all that matters is that it's a great story."
Although I'm but a still-developing writer, I have learned first-hand how much hard work goes into turning a concept into a finished piece of fiction. I've agonized over word choices, phrasing, descriptive details, character traits, dialogue, setting, back-story, pacing, and every other nuance of painstakingly-polished prose. In my quest to make everything I write be the best it can be, I've often zoomed so deep into the details of my writing that I've felt like I was tweaking the pixels on each individual letter on my computer screen.
And, yes -- it's absolutely neccessary.
But that cast-off statement from my evening commute also reminded me of the real goal -- why I do it. It's the whole freakin' reason why anyone would want to read something I write; why they might get wrapped up in it; and why they'd hopefully want to stay with it to the very last word, like beach visitors hanging on until the last few rays of a setting sun.
Not the wording, not the tidbits of description, not the nuances of character, not the subtleties of setting.
It's the STORY!
I want my writing to tell a compelling story -- something that pulls my readers in and entertains, amuses, and immerses them. A story that keeps them involved and invested, from word one right through to the very end.
Of course, I want it finely crafted, too. I'll still need to polish my prose right down to the pixel-tweaking level.
But only because that's something that the reader really notices if its wrong. When everything works, the writing serves mainly to let the story come shining through, right up until the very last glimmer before "The End".
The story -- that's all that matters.
So what do you think?