What is the untold story? How do we know if we have a story worth telling? Easy. If you have a story… it’s worth telling. But here’s a caveat, just because you have a story doesn’t mean the storytelling will hold a person’s interest. I know. I’ve written some stories, short and long, that have tanked and I’ve given up on. Thrown into the e-waste bin.
THE UNTOLD STORY
So, when do we know if a story is one that will resonate with readers? I think the answer is simple but we’re trying to complicate it. I think that when the story grabs us by the neck and won’t let us go, the effect is the same for the reader. I honestly don’t think the subject matter is the issue but the storytelling.
Case in point:
- An old man goes fishing
- A man remembers the war
These examples wouldn’t have a feather’s chance in a wind storm of holding someone’s attention if we didn’t give the reader a little more.
- An old man goes fishing to catch the biggest fish in the sea. (THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA, Hemingway)
- A man remembers the war, being bombed out in an underground shelter in Dresden then transports himself psychologically to a planet called Tralfamadore where he is incarcerated with a beautiful, naked movie star. (SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE, Vonnegut)
Without detail of a struggle, you can’t tell a story well. Without some emotional or physical risk to the character, you can’t tell a story well. Without something important, some universal problem broached, you can’t tell a story well.
- An old man goes fishing to prove he’s still viable and important, that just because he’s old doesn’t mean he doesn’t still have dreams.
- A man remembers the war, and because the memories are so disturbing and sad decades later, he protects himself by thinking of other things to avoid thinking about the war.
As we deepen information for our characters, as we get to that ever-important untold story, we add more interest for our readers. I’ve only shown three goes at deepening information about the story and the characters’ plight within each story but you can go even deeper. Keep searching for what the real story is because sooner or later, it will reveal itself to you.
In THE DEATH OF VULTURES, Meg’s story is one about a mother who loses her daughter to heroin addiction, and how she searches for the people responsible for her daughter’s death.