This is such a great site on editing. Many writers' samples are posted before they are edited and then afterwards. You really get a great understanding of what to keep and toss out.
Thoughts on how to know if your story is happening
I'm enjoying immensely The Modern Library Writer's Workshop, by Stephen Koch, a noted teacher and author. One of the reasons I enjoy it is that he talks about storytelling in ways that resonate with the way I approach it.
One point that sparked for me is that we (the authors) haven't actually told our stories until someone reads them. Koch writes,
"To be sure, the reader follows the writer's lead; but only the reader's imagination, collaborating with the writer's, can make anything happen on any page. It's the reader who visualizes the characters, the reader who feels and finds the forward movement of the story, the reader who catches and is caught in the swirls of suspense, rides the flow of meaning, and unfolds the whole kaleidoscope of perception."
Our readers can do that, must do that, to experience our stories. Or, rather, their version of our stories. Each reader will add shades to the meanings of words and expressions and actions. They'll never read the story we've imagined.
8 years ago