The Story We Bring to the Story

Steve Laube, a literary agent and president of The Steve Laube Agency, has
been in the book industry for over 31 years, first as a bookstore manager where
he was awarded the National Store of the Year by CBA. He then spent over a
decade with Bethany House Publishers and was named the Editor of the Year in
2002. He later became an agent and has represented over 700 new books and was
named Agent of the Year by ACFW. His office is in Phoenix, Arizona. (
With all the discussion about the
craft of fiction and the need to write a great story there is one thing missing
in the equation. The one thing that is the secret to great fiction. And
it is the one thing the writer cannot control.
That one thing is the story the
reader brings with them to their reading experience. As a reader I have the
life I have lived, the people I’ve met, the books I’ve read, and the places
I’ve been that I bring with me into the world your novel has created. This
makes the reading of every story unique. No two people can read the same story
the same way. This is why one person’s favorite book is another’s thrift store
In the new memoir The End of Your Life Book Club author Will Schwable writes about the books he read with his Mom
during the last years of her life. In his introduction he wrote something
We all have a lot more to read
than we can read and a lot more to do than we can do. Still, one of the things
I learned from Mom is this: Reading isn’t the opposite of doing; it’s the
opposite of dying. I will never be able to read my mother’s favorite books without
thinking of her—and when I pass them on and recommend them, I’ll know that some
of what made her goes with them; that some of my mother will live on in those
readers, readers who may be inspired to love the way she loved and do their own
version of what she did in the world.
This is the secret to the greatest
novels of all time. They were written in such a way that my story, the essence
of who I am, merged with that story and it became something new. Something
unique. Something inexplicable. A new story. And then became a part of who I
am…and a part what I bring to the next story I read.
That’s the story I want to read.
Can you write it? I can’t wait to read it.