The Man Behind The Curtain

When I published my first book my brother asked me where the story came from. Did I see a television show or movie? To some people what we do as writers is magic. We put a word down on the page. Sometimes ninety to a hundred thousand of them. We weave our words into a story. We paint a picture, show an emotion, tell a story. With our words. Don’t take that magic for granted. When you spend your day with your stories or other writers you think everyone hears voices in their heads and has full-color movies streaming in their minds. Um, no!

Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono at

Do you remember the scene from The Wizard of Oz? The one where Toto grabs the green curtain with his teeth and reveals the man behind the magic? It is revealed that the wonder of the Great Wizard is all smoke and mirrors. Sometimes it feels like that is what we are doing by revealing how we work the magic of writing. We want to include readers in the process, but how much is too much? Like giving away the plot without a *Spoiler Alert*, are we detailing all the tricks of the trade and killing the magic of storytelling? Are we making it seem so easy anyone can do it?

I ask, because I was telling someone some of the things I did in my new released book and she seemed disappointed that there are things to make sure you have for good storytelling; like knowing the characters GMC and mirroring actions for effect. But if you are good at storytelling, shouldn’t those things be invisible to the reader? Shouldn’t they just believe it was a great book?

Maybe it is time to pull back a notch and hold some of the cards a little closer to the vest. Let’s bring back some of the magic of telling a story and letting the reader live it, breathe it, be in it.

Jill James, writer of stories, teller of tales