Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Why Do Certain Stories Attract You?

Why do we read certain stories?
Why do certain characters stay with us for years?
And why are these stories our favorites?

Think about the stories that attract you. There’s a reason you like them. There’s a reason certain stories stay with you for years.

I remember reading Lassie Come Home when I was a young girl. I’ll never forget how Lassie fought her way to return home to the boy who loved her so much. I also remember reading The Wizard of Oz and discovering all the delightful scenes left out of the movie. I felt the courage Dorothy had to make her journey to Oz and how determined she was to return home. But mostly I enjoyed the reunion she had with her loved ones at the end of the book.

It wasn’t until a few years ago as I was rededicating myself to my writing that I realized why I liked the stories that I do or why the characters stuck with me.

 I was reading Donald Maass’ book, Writing the Breakout Novel, and he said, “They [the characters] say the things we wished we had said. They do things we dream about doing. They grow and change in ways we wish that we could. They feel feelings authentically and without turning away.”

Wow! For me that was profound because he nailed it. Maass made me realize I really liked characters who spoke to my heart and that was why I was attracted to certain stories. I changed the focus of my writing and tried to write characters and stories that made me look deep within myself. This gave me purpose in my writing.

Does your writing have purpose?

Does purpose have anything to do with the premise of a book?


  1. Great point, Kathi. My favorite books followed ordinary heroes and heroines (Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, The Black Stallion, Anne of Green Gables...) and shared their journey to integrity, power, and strength. I've always been drawn to the ordinary people and the amazing things they're capable of.

  2. Wow, what a wonderful post, Kathi! I so agree with Donald, too!
    Yes, my MCs do speak out the wishes of my heart and fears as well.

    My books lead me through trials but with the hope of happiness through right decisions.

    Thank you for this post! <3

  3. Jill,
    You've listed some of my favorites. Who can forget The Black Stallion and the love between the horse and the boy. And Anne of Green Gables is a classic. I love stories of ordinary people rising to a challenge. Those stories truly have purpose. :)

  4. I love what Donald Maass said. I will have to go find that book!

    I try to write with purpose or a message, but sometimes fluff comes out instead.

  5. Elizabeth,
    Isn't Donald Maass great? I loved his book. Did you check out the workbook, too?

    That's great that your MCs speak out the wishes of your heart. Right on!

  6. Carolyn,
    There's nothing wrong with fluff. Fluff sometimes touches the heart more than you know. :)

  7. I love reading books that cause me to think deep. Not in a weird way, but just in a dramatic way. Plus, I love it when a novel causes me to rethink my opinions on something.

  8. Julie,
    I know what you mean. I love stories that make me laugh, cry and think about life. Purpose in writing is where it's at. :)

  9. Love Donald Mass's message! Sometimes the purpose I intend is not the one that comes out, but definitely what I speak with my heart is what comes across in the character's.

  10. Wow, Kathi! That quote just slammed me in my guts - I love it! :-)

  11. Jackee,
    Sometimes when I write a different meaning comes across than what I intended. But I'm like you, if it's from the heart that's what's important. :)

  12. Shannon,
    I'm glad it struck a cord with you. I know when I read it years ago I took it to heart. Donald Maass knows what he's talking about. :)

  13. I don't know why certain things attract me more than others. I think it has to do with the characters and the underlying message, or theme.

  14. kathi,
    I loved this post.I try to make each of my books have a theme that has some real meaning, that the reader will think about it later. Not sure if I have succeeded but I strive for it!

  15. Carol,
    It's probably all those mixed together. :)

  16. Terri,
    That's great. You'll know if you've succeeded when your book comes out and your fans email, telling you thank you. :)



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