Sunday, May 07, 2006

Everyone Has a Story

. . . but does every story need to be told?

That's the question lingering in my mind after I finished reading a very difficult book. I say "finished," but actually I barely skimmed through the last hundred pages. Just enough to learn the main character's faithful loving husband committed suicide in the end. The story was based on a real person's life, set during an interesting period in American history, but even that wasn't enough to keep me (a history freak) hooked.

So what do you think . . . does every story deserve to be told? I guess it's just a matter of differing opinions; I'm sure there are some who'd have been captivated by this story.

That said, several months ago, I decided I didn't have to finish every book I start. Well, typically that's the case with most non-fiction books I read - I get within 2-3 chapters of finishing and something distracts me, causing me to put it down and forget to pick it up. Used to be I'd never let a novel go unfinished but something in my just said why should I waste my time if a book doesn't really satisfy? I don't need perfect, all-loose-ends-tied-up stories but if something's missing - strong characters, engaging plot line, etc. - it's time to move on.

8 comments:

Katrina said...

Good question. I've employed the "skim to the end just to say I finished it" method with several books, and have been left wondering how in the world those stories made it into print. But as you said, someone probably enjoyed those tales.

I would say that not every story deserves/needs to be told, but I also realize that, sadly sometimes, there's more to publishing decisions than well-crafted, engaging stories (case in point: children's books written by "celebrities" that fail the read-it-again-Mom test with kids).

What I need to ask myself: do my "stories," the things I want to write, deserve to be told? Hmm...

Dianne said...

You raise some good points, especially when it comes to my stories. I edited this post to take out the "worst book" phrase; that was a little harsh. I also added my reasoning for NOT finishing stories; something that's made my for-pleasure reading so much more pleasurable! (is that a word?)

Saija said...

i have been so much more selective about books ... i find that they can create a mood - good or bad ... so i do the same, just leave the book if i don't want to continue along that path ... :o)

by the way, i hope your monday was ok - i followed your comment from Debra's blog ...

blessings to you!

Debra said...

Well, my first reaction is that, no, not every story needs to be told. Of course, I could be wrong. :) I think a better way to put it would be that not everyone should read every story.

It's funny that you mentioned the thing about not having to finish every book you nearly read all the way through... I often do that, too, and then I feel a little guilty or something... I need to get over that! Thanks for pointing that out... Debra

Jennifer said...

Well, I do have a pile of half-finished non-fiction books lying around. Most of them I intend to finish, but get distracted, or pick up others, so they get pushed aside.

Fiction is different, though. I have a certain point of no return, where I just have to finish. Even if it's bad, I have to know how it all turns out. I should remember to be more discriminating, though, and if a book doesn't grab me by the first 50 pages, just quit.

Islandsparrow said...

I take out all sorts of books from the library - and if I don't like it or it doens't "grab" me - I quit. I am especially picky when it comes to fiction. I avoid really dark themes unless they are extremely well-written and engaging. I find myself going down with the books so I am careful about what I read.

Lyn said...

This is a question every author and every TALKER should ask. Does this really need to be said/told/related...you get the picture. I just finished a book that was rather interesting and sad. It was fiction but I know there is a lot of truth to it. But I wondered when I finished it "what was it's purpose?"

I know we all see things in different ways and to some, the books I seem as dark are really okay to them. And vice versa...

Interesting question. Thanks for making me think...........

Gina said...

I came over from Jennifer at Snapshot. I'm an aspiring writer too and I'm learning to not finished books. Though I do admit it's hard to read a published book by a friend and not finish it.:)