Saturday, July 9, 2011

A story well told is good

I finished Water for Elephants today.  It was a good read.

After waking up in our hotel in D.C., I was reading in the bathroom (the only one, of course) when Heide needed in.  I told her it was perfect timing, because I'd pretty much finished the book, and "the bad guy died, while the good guy and girl got together and lived happily ever after."  When Heide jokingly jumped my case for revealing the end to her, I replied that that was the end to nearly every book I liked to read.  Then I realized the truth in my attempt at humor. 

Don't get me wrong...WFE is an awesome book.  You probably don't need my recommendation to read it, but if you do then you certainly have it.  It's a very well told story.  It's clearly well researched.  Most importantly, the telling of the story is entirely transparent.  It opens with an engaging scene, so unlike most books out there I didn't have any problem sticking with it at first.  It's told in the first person present and past tense.  Gruen does such a great job with that tense that it feels like Jacob is actually sitting there telling the story.  That's in my bathroom, too, and if I don't have a problem feeling like another old guy is sitting in my bathroom with me, then that's clearly a well-told story.

All that said, there's something to be said for the power of telling the same old story, dressed up differently, in an excellent way.  There doesn't have to be anything new at all about the plot.  The amount of hope that knowledge brings an author-wanna-be like me is immense, really.  I don't HAVE to come up with a brand new story idea.  All I have to do is take an already-used story idea, set it in a new setting, and tell it very, very well.  The good part of that is that I, like any other aspiring writer, can learn to tell a story very, very well.

So...with those words of hope, I say good night.  It's been a long day of touring and this old guy needs sleep.  So, what are your thoughts? 

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