Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Is Your Story Too Good to be True? by Gayla Hiss

Are your stories connecting with readers? If not, author Gayla Hiss may have the answer for you. -- Sandy

Gayla: You’ve written the perfect story . . . never to be published. That was how I felt early in my writing journey. I had good plot ideas, but couldn’t get any traction with publishers. Their rejection letters rarely provided specifics, so it was up to me to solve the mystery like a sleuth in a detective novel. It finally came down to one fatal flaw: my story wasn’t true to life.

In order for stories to connect with readers, they should reflect all the challenges, complications and heartache that come with being human in a fallen world. While it’s tempting to sugarcoat the conflicts and disasters and gloss over the hard realities of life, doing so diminishes the impact of our characters’ triumphs and transformations. For instance, in the Bible, the woman caught in adultery faced an execution squad of male accusers ready to stone her to death. Jesus’ intervention at her lowest point is what makes her story so compelling. The Bible has many such examples, most notably the triumph of our Lord’s glorious resurrection three days after His excruciating death on the cross. For Christians, our lowest valley is physical death, but it is in death that we summit to eternal life with Christ!

Life is complicated. We have many people in our lives: family members, coworkers, friends, neighbors, etc. And each person has their own story, dreams and goals, which sometimes clash with our own. Likewise, our stories should include a good variety of secondary characters who add color and conflict as well as provide confidants and mentors for our heroes and heroines.

Unplanned and unexpected events also occur in our lives, some good, some bad. A person may reveal they are going to have a baby—or that they have a terminal illness. These surprises can often lead us down a different path than we’d planned, or force us to reassess our dreams and beliefs. When these types of events occur in our stories, our characters are faced with the same critical choices and consequences.

By enriching our stories with real-life conflicts, we make them more authentic. If we understand and relate to our hero and heroine’s struggles, we’ll cheer their triumphs even more, because in the end their challenges and victories are really a reflection of our own.

Do your characters face everyday issues in a realistic way that helps readers relate to them and your stories?


Gayla’s writing journey began with her hobby painting landscapes. In her imagination, characters and scenes came to life as she painted beautiful natural settings. Her inspiring novels combine her love for the great outdoors with romance, suspense and mystery. Gayla and her husband often tour the country in their RV, visiting many state and national parks. She enjoys hiking, camping, and traveling, and lives in the Pacific Northwest. She’s excited to announce the recent release of her debut novel, Avalanche, book 1 of her Peril in the Park series. Visit to learn more, and connect with her on Facebook, Amazon and Goodreads.