Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Absolute of Writing

The Storyteller 

by Bert Carson

Almost fifteen years ago, I decided to get serious about writing, something I had played at since the sixth grade when I wrote my first short story.  I went down the submission, rejection, agent, road for a while and then discovered and self-publishing.  

A lot of what I've learned about writing is seasonal.  By that, I mean, it changes as time passes.  However, there is an absolute for writers that must be understood and mastered if one is to succeed.  The unchangeable eternal rule is, you must entertain your readers.   

Today a woman told me she had just finished my most recent book, Maddog and Miss Kitty.  I asked, "What did you think of it?"  I figured she would say the usual: "It was good," or "It was great," or "I loved it." 

However, she didn't say any of those things.  She looked in my eyes and gushed, "I didn't want to put it down, and when I had to put it down to do other things, I couldn't stop thinking about it."

After telling me that, she recapped the story, and she didn't miss a single point that I set out to make when I wrote it. 

It doesn't matter how well you know and practice the mechanics of writing.  If you don't entertain, you won't be read.  If you do entertain, you will be read.  That's the absolute of writing.


  1. Thanks for that, that's so helpful. I often compare myself unfavourably with other writers. But as my husband pointed out, the books that do well are the ones that are enjoyable. And it's not necessarily the ones that are technically brilliant that succeed the most. Great post!

    1. Thanks Elaine,
      My favorite book of all time is Round the Bend by Nevil Shute. It will never be called "great literature" by those who speak that way, but I've read it at least once every year since I found it because it is enjoyable - the fact that it teaches some rather powerful lessons is secondary to its being enjoyable.

  2. That is indeed the secret of good writing. The reader needs to think about the story you told and the visual images you drew with words long after the book is finished and put away. Not a day passes when I don't have a visual jolt from "On the Beach," "Guns of Navarone," or "Shane," and read those several centuries ago. I left the books behind. The stories never left me.