The Power of Story

This inspirational book was written by C.C. Holmes and Mark Graham Communications.

It’s summer, and for many of us, that means vacation – which, for avid readers, often means extra reading time. Who doesn’t enjoy basking on the beach or lounging poolside with a book in their hands? Whether they’re reading fiction or nonfiction, during these warmer months, you’re likely to see many people getting lost in a good book.

But what does it mean to “get lost in a good book”? Ask a dozen readers and you’ll probably get a dozen answers, but in the end, it comes down to this: We all love a good story.

Lisa Cron, in her writing craft book Story Genius, explains why this is true. Cron writes, “Humans are wired for story…story is the language of the brain. We think in story. The brain evolved to use story as its go-to ‘decoder ring’ for reality, and so we’re really expert at probing stories for specific meaning and info.” Cron continues, “Story is how we make sense of the world around us.”

It’s no surprise that we’re all drawn to stories – whether books, movies, ballads, theater, or any other form. (And “story,” by the way, means nonfiction, too. Fans of memoir, self-help, business writing, and other forms of nonfiction often report that their favorite parts of such books are the specific stories the author incorporates.)

When we take in a story, we relate it to our own lives. As Cron explains, “The brain craves certainty. We like to know things for sure, so we can plan accordingly.” She writes, “Story evolved as a way to envision the future and plan for the unexpected.”

Whether “story” means an entire novel or an anecdote in a business book, we hope to relate to it and learn from it. We want to take wisdom from the story and incorporate it into our own lives. In this way, a great story gives us access to the best parts of ourselves – our memories, our hopes, and our dreams.

But what makes a great story? What’s the secret to writing a story that connects with readers?

If you’re considering writing a book, it’s worth noting that there are as many approaches (and then some) to telling a story as there are writing craft books. In Story Genius, Cron explains her approach, insisting it’s foolproof. Whether or not that’s true for a particular storyteller, it’s important to carefully craft your stories in a way that connects with readers. Doing so goes a long way toward assuring your book is long-lasting, remembered, and shared.

Sounds daunting? Take heart. Just like everyone else, you have wonderful stories to tell. If the idea of turning them into a great book feels overwhelming, it might be time to consider a ghostwriter. Explaining your ideas to a ghostwriter, having the ghostwriter organize your stories and make the language flow, can get you well on the way to putting your book in the hands of readers. Soon, your stories will bring out readers’ memories, hopes, and dreams – and your own, too!