On Craft Quotable: Story is King

Three authors from three very different writing eras all agree: It all starts with story.

If you have a story that seems worth telling, and you think you can tell it worthily, then the thing for you to do is to tell it, regardless of whether it has to do with sex, sailors, or mounted policemen.

~ Dashiell Hammett

The trap into which all writers have, will, or should fall into, of writing The Great American Watchamacallit, is such an uncluttered and inviting one that from time to time I’m sure even the greatest have to pull themselves up short by the Shift key to remind themselves that it is story first that they should write.

~ Harlan Ellison

Too many writers think that all you need to do is write well—but that’s only part of what a good book is. Above all, a good book tells a good story. Focus on the story first. Ask yourself, "Will other people find this story so interesting that they will tell others about it?" Remember: A bestselling book usually follows a simple rule, "It’s a wonderful story, wonderfully told"; not, "It’s a wonderfully told story."

~ Nicholas Sparks


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