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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

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 giveaway.
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 profound:
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.


  1. Wow. That really grabbed me. I think back on all the books I've read, the ones that actually made me think differently, and it really rocks me. I remember reading The Grapes of Wrath as a teenager. That book literally changed the way I thought about the world. I can only hope I have the ability to impact someone's life like that. Thanks for the great post, Steve. I'll see what I can for you!

  2. Thanks, Steve for this post. It's powerful--and so true. As I read I thought of several books that are part of who I am. great message, thanks

  3. "Reading isn’t the opposite of doing; it’s the opposite of dying." Love that. Thanks also for explaining the mystery of why some of my favorite reads have been rescued from someone else's thrift-store pile.

  4. It is the kind of writing I want to do.... I'll let you know how it works out.

  5. Beautiful. Powerful. And true.

    I've had that memoir on my to-read list. You just moved it to the top.

    I take special delight when I find a friend who loves some of the same novels I do. When a friend understands why my daughter's middle name is Anne with an e, I know her (or him, since I have at least one male friend who fits this description) as a kindred spirit.


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