An older novel, and a favorite, Godbody by Theodore Sturgeon, published by Donald I. Fine, Inc., estate copyright, 1986, with a forward by Robert Heinlein, and afterword by Stephen R. Donaldson, explores the human reaction to a Christ -like figure, Godbody. The premise of this story is unconditional love and how, when faced with it, individuals respond. This entity, this being, is seen through the eyes of eight people from a small town, all chapters written in first person singular, except for the last, which is written from the omniscient viewpoint.
Sturgeon not only breaks all the rules; he transcends them by combining several points of view, and finally, is omniscient in the final chapter. In a way, each chapter is a small vignette which ultimately makes up the entire book. The setting of the story is a timeless small town in America. To me, all the characters are vivid, rich, real, and have their own unique voices. Each chapter, each vignette, examines that particular chapter's character and their response to this being of unconditional love. Each character has to search deep within themselves or not (depending on the character) and come up with how they feel about Godbody, who like Christ, broke all the social rules of his day.
What is so remarkable about Theodore Sturgeon is his unfailing ability to tell a damn good story, simply. Writing, to me, is nothing without the story. Moreover, the story, to be good, must come full circle. Why? I can't tell you other than I know it. It's like an Indian thing. A circle represents completion. A good story represents a circle in an odd sort-of-way. It's complete, it's full and you leave it like the after-dinner table at Thanksgiving, stuffed and ready to take a nap.
I believe story is one of our greatest teachers and where else can you stand atop a soapbox and spout your views, even if they are opposing? If you do it well enough, you might even get paid. I think the Preacher in me is alive and well, and demanding his time, so therefore I must take to the pages and preach my views among parables, stories, poems and songs.
And it's not necessarily in what is said, verbatim, on the page, where the story is told. The story is told through the conflict between characters, among themselves or with ideas, emotions or situations they're struggling with. I think the best stories, like Sturgeon's, Heinlein's or McCaffrey's are easily read. They're easy on the eye and the mind's ear. I, for one, do not like to struggle to read. Though I am a good reader, I don't want to have to read the same sentence over and over again because the writer was trying to be too fancy, or too eloquent, or too damn arrogant. Big words are nice, but they don't impress me.
While working at the newspaper, I learned the difference of writing styles and what "age group" to write to. It is my understanding that Reader's Digest is written to the 6-8th grade reading level, while an insurance document (boring as hell) is written at the 13th grade level. I strive; though don't always make it, to simplify my writing. I find myself modeling after some of the world's successful writers: S. King, R. Ludlum, and Anne McCaffrey. (I love Vonda McIntyre as well).
I find that Sturgeon has honed his craft like a blademaster wields his sword: artistically swift and to the point. I like Sturgeon because he tackled worn-out topics from a viewpoint and story that went against the norm, especially for his day and time.
Among the first of the first science fiction writers in America, Sturgeon, was not, in my opinion, (I could be wrong) as well-known as some of the others: L. Ron Hubbard, (who by-the-way, won his bet with his science fiction friends on being able to start a religion) Sprague de Camp, and Heinlein. These men, among others, used to hang out together and meet on Saturday's night. You might call this group one of the first SF Writer's Group.
I know it's sacrilegious, but I'm not impressed at all by Asimov, though that could change. I started Foundation Trilogy more than 25 years ago and was thoroughly bored and haven't tried since. David Brin is better than Asimov. I also find Larry Niven a great storyteller. Andre Norton is also excellent. When I read the Witch World series, I was enthralled. Frank Herbert, a former journalist, created a world rich with double meaning in his Dune series but he has written other good books as well. I am not hung up on techno-crap stories because it is not gadgets, in my opinion, that bring people to a good story. A good story will cross all genres and work into the mainstream, whatever its venue. When I find an artist that I like, I gobble them up completely. I've read so many books, I sometimes find myself remembering stories and not the author.
I read most anything, but my primary realm of mischief is SF, then Fantasy. I think, however, one of my favorite books of all time (there are more than one) has to be Stephen King's The Stand . As any mainlining reader knows, a good fat book is hard to find. I am also reading Terry Goodkind's, Wizard series and Robert Jordan's Eye of the World series, but find myself bogged down in Jordan's ninth or tenth book. Too much of a good thing can be, simply put, too much. I need to go on a Jordanian diet for the moment.
Now it's late and I find myself wandering far afield from my chosen task at hand, though I do think, I've given you an idea about myself, my writing ability (or lack thereof) and the understandings I do and do not have on the subject. So for now, I'll sign off.