What makes a book or movie work? (August Posting Challenge)

When I traveled in Indonesia for 2 weeks for two classes, I drank Coca-Cola at dinner every night. People recommended all sorts of exotic drinks, but I always drank Coke. I drank Coke because I wanted something familiar at every meal. I was willing to eat just about anything, but I wanted something comfortable as the foundation for the twists and turns of the meal.

I think the same thing is needed in a good book or movie: something familiar as the basis for the story. Then the twists and turns make sense. A story that is too unfamiliar and too strange is hard to follow and hard to enjoy.

I thought of this when I looked at my bookshelf tonight and saw A.S. Peterson's books The Fiddler's Gun and The Fiddler's Green.

I loved the books. I cannot say clearly enough that they were so good. But they were too unfamiliar. They were a strange mix of history, adventure, pirate, and drama. There is nothing to compare them too and that is the ultimate problem with them. Once I finished them, I was so glad because they were fun and haunting and beautiful. But they were hard to get into and hard to hang onto anything from them except that they were haunting and beautiful and kind-of-fun.

What makes a good story? I would start with something familiar with a twist.

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