Every avid reader out there is convinced it’s the stunning use of words that makes a great writer. And every struggling writer out there believes it is the beautiful prose that hooks the reader.
Think back to essay writing in your English (or in my case, Croatian) classes back in elementary school. You might still hear your teacher raving about the lush, beautiful sentences, while conveniently ignoring the fact that the story itself was either a giant clump of consecutive things that happened (with not much causality between them), or all together — nonexistent.
Bestselling books, the classics . . . they’re all beautifully written (or most of them, anyway). So, intuitively we conclude — aided by our creative writing teachers — that it is stunning prose that makes a story worth reading.
When in fact, it’s the exact opposite.
Where the Forest Meets the Stars is a story about a young ornithologist named Jo, who rents a house in rural Illinois to study nesting birds. Her solitary routine is interrupted when a girl approaches her from the woods. She calls herself Ursa and claims to be an alien who came to Earth to study humanity. Supposedly, she’ll go back to her homeworld once she’s witnessed five miracles here on Earth.
Jo suspects her to be a runaway child whose return to an abusive home might put her in further danger. With help from a reclusive neighbor, Gabe, Jo tries to find out more about Ursa’s past in order to help her.
Stella Lane is great at math, but her autism makes her not-so-great with people. Kissing reminds her of a shark getting his mouth cleaned by a pilot fish, and making love is all about letting a man take pleasure in her body, without expecting the experience to be even remotely as pleasant to her.
Studious as she is, Stella concludes that if she practiced with a professional, she would eventually be able to enjoy sex more—or at least not freeze while someone is making love to her.