by Gina Sestak
So much information coming at us all the time. So much controversy. Print on demand or traditional publisher? Paper back? Hard cover? Kindle? Agent or do-it-yourself? Critique group? Paid editor? Facebook, twitter, a presence on the web? Launch parties at bookstores. Word of mouth marketing.
OK. It's a business. I know that. I try to pay attention. Honest.
I try to read like a writer, analyzing word choice and sentence structure, plot points and genre.
But I'm happiest when I forget all that and get caught up in the story. Any story. It can be short. "Veni, vidi, vici." It can be long - I slogged through an uncut translation of Les Miserables last summer. I look for plot and action and compelling characters everywhere - in books, in movies, even casual conversation. What happened? Who did it? Why? I often fail to see the point of literary fiction, thousands of beautifully chosen words formed into perfect sentences, all meaning absolutely nothing.
Maybe my tastes are too simplistic. In a world full of deep depressing books, I keep rereading Harry Potter. I know how it ends, but I still love to read about how everything comes together, following the way Harry obtains bits and pieces of information until he knows enough to out-guess Voldemort in the final confrontation.
I like the positive message of the books, that love can overcome evil. [Remember that. It's Valentine's Day, after all.]
Maybe that's all it takes: An intriguing beginning, a compelling middle, and a satisfying end.
I know that is enough for me.
I can't help but focus on the story. I can't help thinking that the most powerful four words in the English language may be, "Once upon a time . . . "