In school we were taught to write – or at least, someone attempted to teach us to write. Usually what we learn in school are the mechanics of writing: how to write a sentence, how to construct a paragraph, how to write a five paragraph essay. If we go further into the study of English and Literature, we are taught the elements of literature: theme, plot, character, style, genre.
What is missing for almost all of us is a study of what makes a story. That something that makes us pick up a book and continue reading past the first chapter. What is it that draws us in? What makes us care about what happens? What is it about a story that can move us to tears as we read?
The first thing that a story must have is a connection to the one great story – the Story God tells us in the Bible. Some people call this story the “archetype”; some call it the “great myth”. It’s the story that underlies our very being, and we all know it. It’s the story of good vs. evil, the princess rescued by the perfect Prince, the tragedy of death and the glorious joy of resurrection.
Think of your favorite books: The Lord of the Rings, Black Beauty, Misty of Chincoteague, Moby Dick…they all have elements of the one great story. Think about the last book you read, or the one you’re reading now. Rachel’s Garden, the book I reviewed earlier, tells the story of the death and resurrection of Rachel’s hope, faith, and ability to love again.
The next time you pick up a book, look for the Great Story within it – it will enrich your reading!