Wednesday, December 22, 2010

All the Little Pieces

The other day, Melissa commented on my post Reblocking = Rethinking that "a great story is made up of X,000 perfect words in the perfect order." At the time, I thought that was quite brilliant. Last night, my family and I were watching our collective favorite Christmas movie, Love Actually, and I realized that the reason I love that movie is that it doesn't just have one, two, or three great moments. No, it has a ton of moments where I end up saying, "Oh, I love this part," or "this is such a good moment," or "ooh, I love this bit."

The truly great stories aren't one absolutely amazing bit. They're made up of x,ooo really good moments in a succession. For one fabulous moment, I'll read the book once and occasionally pick it up and flip right to that chapter. For a ton of good moments, I'll reread the entire book over and over again, because all of it's good and all of it feels worth it.

To sum up: You don't have to create a scene that is so absolutely fantastic that people read it and go, "oh, heavens to hopscotch, I'm never going to be that good - I should just give up." It's better to have a lot of little great moments over and over again. Tiny moments that tug at heart strings or inspire smiles and laughter or make me want to read that bit aloud to a friend total up to a book that moves someone, makes someone laugh every time they read it, and they want to give it to friends. 100 one-pointers is better than 1 ten-pointer.

Thoughts? Are there stories you love that are just a lot of good moments? What are you better at, little moments or big scenes?


  1. I'm a good scene writer with moments of brilliance. I don't think I'm conceited enough to say I'm a brilliant writer. But I like my moments because they are pretty good. I'd like to think I can keep my reader going with that.

  2. Love Actually is one of my top five movies of all time, not just the holidays, so I agree 100% about the number of awesome scenes. If my writing can ellict one tenth of the emotion that movie does...I'd consider myself blessed. :)

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!

  3. Anne -- Moments of brilliance are awesome.

    DL -- Love Actually is good any time of year. Happy Holidays.