Saturday, March 9, 2019

It’s Important to Tell Our Readers a Story

by Beth Vogt @BethVogt

“Tell the readers a story! Because without a story, you are merely using words to prove you can string them together in logical sentences.”
Anne McCaffrey (1926-2011), first woman to win a Hugo Award for fiction

Let’s just be honest with each other, writer-friends: We complicate this whole writing process. 

We devote a lot of time and energy on crafting quirky characters and witty dialogue and vivid setting and layering in symbolism and metaphors. 

But Beth, you say, we need all that stuff to write a good story. What’s the problem?

The problem is that in the process of doing all that work, we forget the most important thing: the story we wanted to tell our readers in the first place.

When we clear away all the do’s and don’ts, all the tricks of the writing trade and the must-haves, we writers are storytellers. 

We can laugh at the overused opening lines of “Once upon a time” or “It was a dark and stormy night, ”but there’s a part of our heart that leans forward at the sound of those words.


Because they promise a story.

Story is powerful. A story engages our hearts and minds, evoking emotions and memories, allowing us to re-experience time past or experience something we thought was beyond our grasp. Stories heal and bring hope. Stories invite us into unsolved mysteries or cultures. Stories cause us to question who we are or reaffirm the values we lost sight of.

As novelists, it’s imperative to always remember the story we started to tell – or, as it’s said: to remember why we started

We started because we wanted to tell a story. As we move from fast draft to final edits, from chapter one to The End, let’s remember to tell our readers a story … the story that sparked our imagination and poured out as words onto the page.

What story are you telling your readers?


Award-winning author Beth K. Vogt believes God’s best often waits behind the doors marked “Never.” Having authored nine contemporary romance novels and novellas, Beth's first women's fiction novel with Tyndale House Publishers, Things I Never Told You, released May 2018. Moments We Forget, book two in the Thatcher Sisters Series, releases May 2019. An established magazine writer and former editor of the leadership magazine for MOPS International, Beth blogs for Novel Rocket and The Write Conversation and also enjoys speaking to writers group and mentoring other writers. Visit Beth at


  1. Great post, Beth. In an earlier life I would have said, "Well, duhhhhh... and not read your wise words. I didn't "get" many paintings or appreciate many battlefields or plantations until I heard the stories told by guides docents, family, etc. And it's the story that's the takeaway. I'm seeing this in photogrsphy and poetry, too. We can put dabs of the colors of a rainbow on a canvas, but the artist can make a story of them.
    Jay Wright; Anderson, SC

    1. Good morning, Jay: I agree with you that I used to pass by the stories the docents told at battlefields and plantations -- until I realized those stories brought those places to life for me. My grandfather was a tour guide at Gettysburg and a history buff. Here's a story for you: He was reading one of the markers and found an error, which he then reported so that it could be corrected. I've always thought that was so amazing that he was so well-read he spotted an error that no one else had.

  2. Amen Ms. Beth. There a reason Christ taught in parables ma'am. Even us nonfiction writers need to tell a story. Great post ma'am. God's blessings...

    1. Good morning, Jim. Yes, we nonfiction writer need to remember the value of stories, too. (I say "we" because I began my writing career as a non-fiction writer and editor. I value both sides of the writing road.)

  3. Good message. Remember why we are sharing the story. Thank you.

  4. Thanks, Melissa! Enjoy remembering why you started!