A note from Julia: I’m so honored to have E.G. Bella guest posting today! I hope you enjoy reading her words as much as I did. I also guest posted over on her blog today, too, so if you’re interested in that and all her wonderful writing, check out https://egbella.com/.
What are your favorite things about stories?
Obviously, specific stories have individual reasons to be favored. But in general, why do you read stories? What do you love to read? When you read a story, what is it that sticks with your heart?
Is it the characters? Do you love to read about interweaving relationships, close bonds, and/or fierce rivalries? Is every story a chance to meet new ‘people’ and maybe even friends of a sort?
Or is it the plots? Do you read to discover intriguing mysteries, heart-pounding action and/or intricate plot twists? Is every story a vessel to take you places you would never otherwise go?
Do you read for humor? To escape from the pressures of everyday life? To learn?
There’s no wrong answer. Only yours.
So what are your favorite things about stories?
Personally, the characters make a story to me. I read to watch people overcome impossible obstacles, and to be inspired to do the same. I read to get to know ‘people’ I sadly won’t ever get to meet, but reading about their lives makes me feel like I am. If I relate to and care about the characters, the rest of the book can be extremely mediocre and I’ll still enjoy it.
When the characters fall flat, are unrealistic, or I just don’t care about them, then it doesn’t matter how thrilling the action or how clever the plot. It’s just not worth it to me. If I even finish the story, I won’t be re-reading it.
But more than that… past the elements of story, like characters, plots, and settings… my favorite thing about stories is how they make me feel. The emotions I experience from reading. The truths that I get to see tested, and that, if successful, are then imprinted on my heart.
There’s nothing like feeling the joy of a couple as they discover they’re expecting. Or their grief when the baby is stillborn. Or their solemn hopefulness as they wonder if they’re expecting again.
How can words on a page create such a stir within us? How can some ink (or pixels) cause our hearts to leap, ache, and clench? How can some pencil lead and notebook paper give us chills, make us laugh, and draw tears?
I find it amazing that something that looks so unassuming as a book can influence our lives so much. There have been many stories that I’ve read over the years that have changed my life greatly. They’ve changed how I thought, how I spoke, how I acted. They’ve taught me, inspired me, and moved me. And to do it, they’ve made me feel.
Anyone can throw some sentences onto a page and call it a story. But is a story worth reading if it doesn’t move you? Personally, I don’t think so. Even non-fiction books, like self-help and fitness, tell stories. It’s just that in those cases, the stories involve real people and situations, rather than imaginary ones.
A truth is far more likely to remain and influence me if it’s presented in a way that draws on my emotions. In a story. A chart is not going to impact me nearly as much as seeing those same contents lived out in a story world with characters and a well-written plot.
And there’s the true beauty of story-telling, I think.
I’m a writer. And as a writer, I strive to make people feel things when they read my stories. To feel joy, or grief, or fear, or anger. To grow attached to the characters, engrossed in the plot, and invested with not just their minds but their hearts. To witness me present why I believe some lesson should be learned or truth ingested. Not using a spreadsheet – but with a story.
There’s also a great deal of responsibility in story-telling.
Emotions are powerful. Drawing on them through story is equally so. I work very hard to ensure my stories are never pressing harmful messages onto the hearts of those who read them. Instead, when someone puts down a story of mine, I always want them to walk away influenced for the better.
Maybe they’re inspired. Maybe they’re humbled. Maybe they feel the slightest inkling of hope – and it’s more than they’ve felt in a long time.
That’s why I write. That’s why I read. And that’s my favorite part of any story.
Because books are the majority of what I write, I’ve been focusing on stories within novels. But stories are everywhere! In movies, TV shows, magazines, newspapers, letters, and casual conversations. In the richest palace and the poorest hut. Within the scholar and the student. The grandparent and the grandchild. The tycoon and the toddler.
And each and every one of them has the potential to change lives.
Have you thought about that before? Have you ever realized that you have that opportunity? By simply telling your stories, others’ lives may be enriched. You could be the reason someone smiles today. You could be the reason they turn away from their damaging beliefs. You could be the reason someone learns that they’re pursuing what doesn’t truly matter, and instead embraces what will then change lives around them, too.
Stories don’t have to be fancy. They don’t have to be complicated, or eloquent, or revolutionary. They can be as simple as talking about how the stranger took the time to help you change your tire, or as expansive as writing a novel about characters demonstrating servitude and love.
As long as it’s honest, heartfelt, and told with the intention to improve someone else’s life, chances are it will. In most cases, it may not be major. But sometimes it is. And even a minor improvement is a huge blessing.
I cherish the opportunity to change lives through my story-telling. Maybe I’ll reach a lot of people with it. Maybe I’ll only reach a couple. But I’d rather only reach a couple and also reach their hearts, then reach countless people and fail to truly reach any of them. That makes it worth anything. Any work, any awkwardness, any discomfort.
Nothing beats knowing that someone is stepping away from your story with a positive change in their hearts.
So tell your story.
Whatever it is. Fiction or non-fiction. Novel or news article. Children’s book or conversation.
There’s someone in your life that needs to hear it. Someone that will be moved, influenced, and blessed by it. Someone that you can help right now, by simply opening your mouth, picking up your pencil, or typing in a document.
Through stories, we each have the chance to be a force of good in a world desperately needing it.
And that’s my favorite thing about stories.
E. G. Bella is a bookworm turned author with a passion for cheesy puns, colorful characters, and contagious faith. Unlike most of her characters, she comes from a warm and loving home, and actually enjoys getting up with the sun. She writes in a wide variety of genres, crafting memorable, page-turning tales the whole family can enjoy.
You can learn more about E.G. Bella at her website, https://egbella.com/.