Read a great story lately? A short while ago I posted a blurb about reading and READING, about reading the words and reading the story. Well what makes a great story? Is it winning a big prize like the Pulitzer or the Nebula? I don’t really think so.
A great story has a bit of magic in it that appeals to you personally, maybe to everybody on some level. Read harry Potter? I would bet you have, in fact I would bet that just about everyone has read Harry Potter, it’s a great story. The Harry potter books have been read by just as many adults as children, think of that. Here’s a story about a group of kids going off to school to learn to be witches and warlocks, hounded by a really evil dude named Valdemort and having adventures of all sorts. Doesn’t really sound like the type of book an adult might read does it? But it is. The book appeals to kids of all ages, to adults to almost everyone. The series of Harry potter books has put the READING back in reading, it’s agreat story.
Lord of the Rings us a similarly great story, millions of people, adults, kids whole families have read it and continue to read. Many like myself have read it many times. It’s a great story, a rollicking adventure full of baddies, goodies, dragons, great evil and great triumph. Lord of the Rings appeals to all ages and is a timeless story, still fresh every time you read it.
A great story however is not necessarily one that appeals to all ages all of the time however, it is one that appeals to you, the reader in a special way. When I was 10 (and that was a long time ago I assure you!) I read a book given to me by a grade school teacher who thought I should read more, that book was Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury. This was the story of Douglas Spaulding and the adventures he experienced over a summer. This is a great story and a book which has stuck with me all these long years. In one passage Douglas is explaining to a shoe store owner why he need a new pair of sneaks ( Cream-Sponge Para Litefoot Shoes!) for the summer. Hear are the words of Douglas Spaulding:
But Mr Sanderson, but – asoon as I get those shoes on, you know what happens?
Bang! I deliver your packages, pick up your packages, bring your coffee, burn your trash, run to the post office, telegraph office, library! You’ll see twelve of me in and out, in and out, every minute. Feel those shoes, (Mr Sanderson having been convinced to dawn a pair of Cream-Sponge Para Litefoot Tennis Shoes) Mr Sanderson, feel how fast they’d take me? All those springs inside? Feel all the running inside? Fell how they kinda grab hold and can’t let you alone and don’t like you standing there? Feel how quick I’d be doing things you’d rather not bother with? You stay in the nice cool store while I’m jumping all around town! But it’s not really me, it’s the shoes. They’re going like mad down alleys, cutting corners and back. There they go!
The passage goes on but you get the point, Douglas has saved all winter to visit the store and get his new pair of Cream-Sponge Para Litefoot Tennis Shoe, to shed his winter Oxfords and go bounding across new grass. It’s the first day of summer. It was a great story 40 years ago and i must have read it 50 times since then. Every year round about the first day I go and by my pair of summer shoes, shedding my winter oxfords for sneaks, not the Cream-Sponge Para Litefoot Tennis Shoes (never could find a pair!) but new sneaks none the less. To me that is a great story.
A great story is a bit of magic woven by a special type of magician who captures a bit your soul in words and transports you to places you could never reach by any road on a map. They create a magical place you can go to that may be in this world, may be in the far reaches of space or the depths of fantasy. They carry you away, bring you back and stay with you al your days. There si nothing quite so enjoyable as a great story unless maybe it’s new sneaks. Which reminds me I must be off to hunt down my new pair of Cream-Sponge Para Tennis Litefoot Shoes.