I love stories. I love immersing myself in them, be they books, movies or episodes from my favorite television shows. I don’t care. Heck, you can plop yourself beside me and spin a yarn. I’ll listen. I’m a story addict.
It’s so bad that my family teases me about getting caught up in movies and jumping, yelping and cringing. Once a little boy hit me during a scary movie because I scared him more than the monster on the screen—a bit of an embarrassment really, but one I won’t regret.
You see, that’s the hook for me—the ability to lose myself completely within the story, so engaged that I react to the story in a visceral way. I do it with tales that hold me, whether on the page or screen. It doesn’t matter as long as the story is good.
I want to be transported by what I am reading, watching and hearing. I long for that escape to a new life, not because my life lacks, but because it expands each time by my armchair adventures.
Stories allow me to stretch my life in all directions without limit. It makes me free to live a million lives with no boundaries. I can summit Everest or explore galaxies. I can survive hostile worlds and mingle with aliens. I can be a boy or a bear. Nothing is off-limits.
The catch is that the stories have to work. They have to contain enough details to create an illusion strong enough to feel real. When I worked at Disney, they called this “magic” and it was a firing offense to break that magic. It was one rule I believed in above all else and one that I still reach for when I write. It is deplorable to create something magical and then break the illusion.
It should also be a crime to tell a story that leaves your reader hanging.
I don’t care if you are writing a novel, an article or a speech, tell me a story that sings. Give me the details that will grab me. Don’t tell me why I should care about your character or even a widget you are selling—make me care about it. Make me see how it will change my life for the better. Capture my imagination so I can see myself using it.
You can do this by using active verbs, following narrative forms (no matter what your project) and by painting a scene that works.
Story is everything. In fiction and nonfiction alike. No matter what you are writing.
Tell a good story.