Sometimes The Story Is Better Than the History

In literature we sometimes can’t tell the truth from a myth. The truth is that the story is often better than the history.

The Deluge



A good example is the deluge that covered the earth in ancient times. Such a story is found in in the literature of many ancient countries. Notably is the story of the flood in Genesis of the New Testament where Noah is told to build an ark to save his family and all the animals of the world.

It’s pretty obvious that such floods occurred, at least locally, or perhaps in the limited world of the individual. Such stories are great to read, and from what I understand of ancient literature, the story was much more important than the actual history. If God was not there in the original story, the ancient writers would certainly put him there, perhaps several gods as needed.

The Story Is the Thing

Folks love fiction because they love a story. They know that the story probably is not based on fact, although occasionally it is, but they don’t care. They want to be entertained, feel love, feel terror, feel adventure and to feel the world of the unknown such as in science fiction.


When I was writing novels, I did research. I read the history and the stories of the past. This was the background for my novel. The reason I don’t write novels anymore is that I’m 83 years old and my brain tends to get history’s confused and I might place events of the 19th century in the 18th century and such. Most readers pick up such blunders and they might tell me about it.

What Makes a Good Story

Cowpoke on BullA good story has great characters, characters that are bigger than life. Stereotype characters are not desired. The story wants a character who is different even if derived from the stereotype.

A good story has a great events. Living these events makes the characters in the story more exciting. Folks like action in most cases, so action is important.

A good story has a great plot, not the ho-hum stuff. There are only so many story plots. It’s the details in fiction that brighten up the plots and makes you think that it is new.

And it is the details in your story that keep people reading. They want to know your characters from inside and out, especially the protagonist and the antagonist. (The protagonist is the hero of your story and they antagonist is the bad guy.)

Each scene in your story builds the plot and advances the story. So you want your scenes to be vibrant and memorable. In my mind, I still see many of the scenes from my past novels. In a way, they are my history. Scenes which include Place, need to be authentic if real. (I read on of Zane Gray’s novel and I read his description of a view from the Mogollon Rim in Arizona. I told my wife it was not right but we drove upon the Rim and took a look to make sure. His description was right on.)

Mogollon Rim

Mogollon Rim

Also when I write a novel, the characters in the novel come forth and try to take over the novel. That means that lots of extraneous stuff can get into your story, stuff that distracts from rather than build your story. One character in one of my stories (Bull, A Western Saga) was so blasted persistent, that I had to write him a novel of his own (Revenge on the Mogollon Rim, A Peter Ott Western). The characters in my novels are part of my history and I know them well.

Bill Cosby

What did Bill Cosby do with the Noah Story? Went something like this:

God: Noah! Build an Ark!

Noah: Great, Lord! What’s an ark?

God: Make it of Gopher Wood and 180 cubits long!

Noah: Great, Lord! What’s a cubit?

This almost makes me want to write another novel. However, I must resist. In my old age, I’m sticking to the short stuff.


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