I was in a memoir class not too long ago, as a student. There were about ten of us and each had a story to tell. Some were experienced, even published writers, and others did not even have a particular affinity for writing, but we all had an idea of what our books would be about. A couple of those stories just grabbed us all. We were amazed to be hearing participant accounts of these shocking events, the risks and courage these people were forced to embrace. We wanted to know what happened and what was it like and then what?

In this group it was clear to see the difference between good writing that drew us in because of voice, detail, an attention to and facility with language, on the one hand, and story on the other hand that drew us in because of a situation and a chain of high stake events that fascinated us. Readers vary, of course, but to some degree, we want both of these elements–strong writing and great story.

When you are looking for your next story–either in your own life, the world or your imagination–think about what would hold a table full of would-be writers spellbound. What would shift us from thinking about our own lives, our own stories, and make us have to hear yours?

A Practical Alphabet for Writers: Find all the letters so far at http://bookwritingworld.com/blogs/

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