Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain

I’m going to make an assumption. Everyone has at some point in their life read a book that they fell in love with. You may not call yourself a reader today, that is you may not regularly read for enjoyment…which begs the question, why are you here?.

I’m currently reading Haruki Murakami. This is my first time reading this author. The book is entitled Kafka on the Shore, and it’s fantastic. As I read the book I ask myself, what makes a good story? This question is not to be mistaken with, why do I like this story? You can ask yourself why you like a bad book. I know lots of people who do it…or at least they should be doing it (I’m talking to you Twilight fans). I’ve arrived at an answer. Of course it’s not official in any way, but it makes sense to me.

It seems to me that in every good story, every sentence matters, every sentence is significant. Some are more significant than others, but they matter. None are wasted. There’s no filler for the sake of filling, no fluff just for fun. Does that mean the content can’t be fun? No. It means that behind the fun, the action, the sorrow, behind it all is just a writer putting all of his words to work for a purpose. And when he catches you looking at him he’ll say, “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.”

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Published in: on July 28, 2010 at 1:57 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I agree. Every sentence should matter. Therein lies the challenge to any author. To use your own analogy, you are building a ‘Yellow Brick Road’ to take the reader to Oz. Question is how much time to spend on describing the scenery. How much time placing each brick on the Yellow Brick Road that gets you to Oz and what kind of Wicked Witches will we face in route. Biggest question of all is does the reader want to leave Kansas and embark on the journey to Oz?

    As a fairly avid reader that reads a lot of different kinds of books, the first thing I do is read the back cover to see if I am interested in going to the authors Oz. I don’t analyze very closely the authors writing ability, as from an English Literature/Grammar professors grading standpoint. I don’t think the majority of readers do either and that is why it may be harder for a literature major type person to enjoy books that are not that well written. To me a book needs to move the plot along enough that I don’t get bogged down in descriptions of everything and everyone in sight. I realize that description is necessary to paint a picture for the reader, but it can be overdone. More to come later…

  2. When I write I do well boiling things down to the essentials, but have a hard time with necessary fluff . . . the stuff that makes things interesting and engaging. I guess that’s why I’m a dentist instead of a writer.


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