Which Is More Important, The Story or How It Is Told?

Open book

In contemplating the craft of writing, I have been drawn to what may be a very old question: Which is more important to the reader, the significance of the story or the way that it is told? If you had to rate the two components on a percentage scale, would story get 50% and telling get 50% or would one greatly outweigh the other? Of course, the type of book affects the answer. Non-fiction is typically more subject-matter driven. If I want to read a biography of Winston Churchill, I am not inclined to be as concerned with the quality of the writing as with the accuracy of the content. Still, familiarity with the author will influence my decision.

In general, I believe the quality of the telling can overcome a mediocre storyline. Do we tend to read books based on our experience with the author’s style or with the subject matter. In fiction, I think the author drives the interest–at least if the author is known. When I want to read a mystery or thriller, I don’t necessarily search for a book with a particular murder plot or terror threat. If I like the writing of a specific author, I am likely to go for that name on the cover before I even notice the book title. Publishers realize this. It is not uncommon for the name of a well-known author to take up more space on the book cover than the title does. Even so, I have been disappointed in that method at times. We have all probably really enjoyed a book by an author only to be underwhelmed by a subsequent offering from the same author because the story failed to hold up. Read the rest of this entry »


Guest Post for Indie Author News – Pace Craft – Understanding the Tension bewteen Action and Exposition

INDIE AUTHOR NEWS is a good resource for Indie Writers. Here is a recent guest post they published: Pace Craft – Understanding the Tension between Action and Exposition


All Whiskey Is Not Bourbon – All Writers Are Not Authors

I was contemplating the subject of author-versus-writer recently when I was drawn to a Tweet from Joel Friedlander called The New World of Publishing: Writer vs. Author taken from the blog of  Dean Wesley Smith. While not exactly along the lines of my thoughts on the subject, it is well worth the read. His primary, and accurate, distinction is that authorship is focused on a past accomplishment while writing is an on-going, forward-looking process. The application to the world of independent writers/authors is that the author mindset is focused on the success of the last book. The writer mentality is to get the old book out there and move on. To paraphrase Mr. Smith from the writer’s perspective: The best promotion for the old book is the next one.

I think all writers (especially independent writers) must consider how they invest their efforts. Read the rest of this entry »


Origins of The Falcon Dirk — Part Three

English: Picture is of St. Kevin's Church and/...

The Long Room
The Long Room (Photo credit: National Library of Ireland on The Commons)

I have a great admiration bordering on a passion for old, rare books–emphasis on old. Rarity is impressive, but age, survival through decades or centuries by even a common book is equally impressive to me. The value of a book is the product of edition, condition, and scarcity. Those criteria apply whether talking about a copy of John Milton’s Paradise Lost or a copy of Marvel Comic‘s Amazing Spider-man. It isn’t the value that attracts me, however; it’s being able to hold an old book in my relatively young hands and have a sense of the time that has passed since it was first made, first held. There is something about the smell of aged paper and ink, the delicate state of the pages, and the voice of the printing carried across the decades or centuries. Read the rest of this entry »


Origins of The Falcon Dirk – Part Two

English: Sign for B.B. King's Blues club on Be...

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English: Aerial view of the Hernando de Soto B...
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I remember when I saw the movie The Firm (John Grisham) years ago. I was interested in it primarily because it was set in Memphis. I had lived in Memphis for a number of years, but had not seen any movies that had been filmed there or based on Memphis. I thought at the time that I would include Memphis in a book, if I ever wrote one. And so I did.

Memphis has many interesting qualities, but the most interesting to me is the Mississippi River and the waterfront. A slight stretch inland from the waterfront will also encompass the Beale Street district, the next most interesting part of Memphis. I created a location for the purpose of my book. It is a place I would want to have if I lived on the river downtown. Read the rest of this entry »


Origins of The Falcon Dirk–Part One

GalenaFromKansas

The Shine - Galena

Main Street in Galena KS looking south from 4t...
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I set the heart of The Falcon Dirk in the small town of Galena, Kansas because it was my hometown. From the time I thought about writing a novel–which was a long time ago–I thought about including that town. It was more about paying homage to my roots than anything, but the interesting history surrounding the old mining town provided good bones for a story. I think it will not be the last time it will appear in my writing.

Galena sprang up out of the gently rolling vastness of southeast Kansas to become a mining boom town in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The rich veins of galena (the chief ore in lead) and zinc drew prospectors and opportunists from the hills and plains to seek their fortune by carving holes into the flinty landscape and grinding out the important minerals. There was a lot of wealth and a lot of destruction created then, both to the landscape and to the lives of many associated with the mining process. The town was known in those days for its frontier roughness. As with many boom towns, the real boom came to those industrious individuals and companies in their pursuit of relieving the miners of their hard earned cash once they had been paid. Gun play was so common that it was said there was almost as much lead being shot into the miners as they were able to dig out of the ground. Read the rest of this entry »