Jennifer Lyon

Wednesday, October 19th, 2022
The Power of Story (my opinion!)

The audiobook I’m listening too had a major curveball that was interesting. The female murder victim turned out to be transgender which very few people knew. That twist came during the trial, and could provide the missing motive to why her boyfriend could have murdered her in the book’s plot. That’s all fine and didn’t bother me.

What does bug me is when the character exposition turned into blatant lecturing. I’m not even sensitive on these topics. If I don’t like something, I just move onto something else. There’s plenty of choices out there. But this twist worked for me in this story since it upped the stakes, and the author had laid down some clues that suddenly made sense. But I got jerked hard out of the story by the blatant lecturing in the murder victims exposition (the timeline switches between the present and the past, and that parts skillfully done). It makes me sad. Sometimes as authors, we forget the story itself is powerful enough, and we are actually weaking the power of the story when we insert our own voice, beliefs and or agendas. Let the characters tell their story and trust their story is enough.

Then step off and let readers choose if they want to go along for the story’s ride or not. Some will, some won’t. That’s how it works. And that’s how it should work in my view. Readers get to choose what they want to read. But if we write a powerful enough story without that lecturing, maybe we will give our characters a chance to add something to the conversation of life, and give readers an opportunity to see something from another point of view. It’s happened to me many times.

For sure, the method in this book doesn’t work for me. It seriously irritates me.

I’m finishing the story because I’m still hooked by the story question of did the well like, nice guy high school hocky star kill his girlfriend or not? Plus the author is developing interesting characters and her writing is engaging except for this one thing that slips through in the exposition/lecturing.

A couple decades ago, I was reading a fiction and was too far in when I realized it involved showing the opposite side of something I believed. By then I was hooked and devoured the entire book. There was no lecturing. Rather, this was a powerful story that helped me see that issue in a broader way. I don’t remember the title, but I’ve remembered the story and the two main characters for more than two decades.  That’s pretty danged impressive. That fictional book had an impact on my views and has stayed with me for a very long time. It didn’t necessarily change my opinion but it’s helped me understand how the issue affects all people, not just me.

That’s powerful. And yet not once did the author disguised as the character lecture. She was living her life in the timeline of that book, and I was experiencing it with her. For those few hours, it felt like I had a friend who lived a different life than mine, and I was learning from her without even realizing it.

That is the power of story! Let’s keep our author voice’s out of it and let the characters’ voices do their job!

Happy Wednesday!

4 comments to “The Power of Story (my opinion!)”

  1. Silver James
    October 19th, 2022 at 8:42 am · Link

    I totally agree. I don’t read to be lectured. Or scolded. If I want that, I’ll read non-fiction or watch legacy news. I’ve stopped buying and reading formally automatic buy authors due to this issue. They are welcome to spout their views on social media. I can block or unfollow or ignore. But when they preach to me in their books? I’m done.

    Yes, a story needs to stand on it’s own. Characters need to stand on their own. Show us their live without clubbing us readers with your political agenda. That will go further in advancing the viewpoint than the lecture. Totally with you on this one so it’s my opinion too!

  2. Jenn
    October 19th, 2022 at 10:45 am · Link

    Silver, I’m not categorizing just politics, I’ve seen this in anything authors feel passionate about; like say dog training or child rearing or why plants matter or everyone should or shouldn’t have a kid. What frustrates me even more is this author has a fabulous scene in there with a doctor who specialized in transgender and I learned so much from that scene. I forgot about an “issue” and just absorbed medical facts that caught my interest. I was like… “Oh, now see I never really understood that before.” And I really like learning especially in medicine. And then she shifted into another scene and I’m suddenly being lectured again on how I need to feel. In my view she destroyed the power of her brilliant scene. My frustration with this book is real, LOL.

    But it really made me see how we as authors can dilute the power of our stories by interfering with lecturing and trying to tell our readers how to feel. Let the characters show the world who they are, and that’s the end of our job as authors. Readers make up their own minds.

    I’ve got one of your books ready to go on my Kindle for when I start the dreaded prep for a procedure tomorrow morning. I’m sure your book will help distract me! So thanks in advance!

  3. Viki S.
    October 19th, 2022 at 2:45 pm · Link

    That would really annoy me too. I can’t stand being lectured. You’re better than me. I would have quit the book.

    I see this on TV all the time now too. It really is a great way to get me to leave.

    Today was garbage day and I got hooked up with the can going down the drive in the dark at 5:50 am. I finally was able to figure out (I couldn’t see) that a tree was down and across the drive. What a mess. It must have been the snow and rain being too heavy and SNAP.

    After I worked out and showered I went out to see what was what. A large tree snapped off and was across and 40+ feet down the drive. We lent our chainsaw to youngest so I was out there with a pruning saw trying to cut off as much as I could so that I could clear the drive. I did it – I texted youngest that his mom is one badass😆. He agreed with me. He’ll come over one night after work with the chainsaw and really clean it up. It has tired me out.

    Sure hope you have a great afternoon.

  4. Jenn
    October 19th, 2022 at 3:56 pm · Link

    Viki, I’m surprised I stuck with the book too. I really do what to know if the accused killed the victim, and I’m so busy doing stuff around the house while listening, and thinking about why I believe this author made mistakes in lecturing :-)

    Wow you are totally badass!!! I’m very impressed you could do that at all. Of course youngest was impressed, as he should be! I’m glad he’s coming over to clear the rest out later. You definitely need to rest after that!

    I hope get some well deserved rest!

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