I’ve loved stories for as long as I can remember. Books were my childhood love all growing up, complemented by a couple of television cartoons and movies. My love of books made me want to be a published author, a dream I’ve cherished since elementary school. It also led me to become an English major. From my time developing my writing craft and earning my English degree in college, I’ve learned how to pick apart and analyze stories. Nowadays, I often even find myself critiquing published books as I read them for leisure. After just a few years of practice, my mind is simply wired to evaluate every piece of literature I come across.
Though at times my analytical thoughts annoy me (sometimes I just want to enjoy a book without noticing its flaws), I’m also thankful for them. After all, writers should always be learning, and a chief way we can learn is by reading other stories. By studying stories.
I used to do this all the time in college, and now that I’m out of school, I miss having that as a part of my daily routine. So I began to think about my favorite books, movies, and T.V. shows and reflect on why I love them so much. I realized how much my favorite stories have impacted my writing over the years, both by demonstrating the techniques I want to emulate as well as inspiring certain story tropes in my own work.
Discovering this, in turn, created an idea to turn my story evaluations into blog posts in order to share my thoughts. With each post, I’ll focus on a particular story (or stories) and talk about what I loved about it. I’ll also share some things that didn’t work for me—even the best of our favorite stories aren’t always perfect, nor will our own writing. I’ll close each post by sharing some of my biggest takeaways and what I’ve learned from each story. Stories I’ll cover will range from The Lord of the Rings to the MCU movies to my favorite childhood cartoons to, well, anything that’s ever made a huge impact on my storytelling. I won’t cover every single one of the stories I’ve loved over the years, but there are quite a few that made a significant impact on my life as a writer and storyteller.
I also want to add that with these posts, my goal is not to objectively classify “good” and “bad” literature; I want to be as subjective as possible. Though there may be certain tendencies or elements in stories that indicate whether they will last for years to come or not, art is still subjective, so I want to treat it as such. A story element I like may be one you don’t care for. Something I dislike in one tale may be something you absolutely love. And that’s okay. Find what you appreciate in a story and learn from it. Emulate it. Even if it goes against popular opinion. We all have our own stories to tell; no one else can dictate how you should write yours, or even how to write the “ultimate perfect-standard story.”
I hope you’ll join me for this journey over the next few months!
What are some of your favorite stories? What do you love about them? What have you learned from them? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.