A few years back on a vacation to Alaska, I became fascinated (obsessed really) with Matryoshka (nesting) dolls. I loved not knowing how many little wooden dolls I would find hidden inside. It became my quest to find the one around 6" tall that had the most in it.
I searched in every store we visited. There was no way to tell from the outside of the doll, how many were on the inside. So I opened and opened and opened--each time with great anticipation. Each time being a little disappointed when it stopped at five. Then I had to put it back together and try again.
I almost became resigned to the fact that five was as far as any of them would go, but another one caught my eye. It was black with a prince on a white horse painted on it. It reminded me of a fairy tale. I took a deep breath and opened the first one, then the second, all the way to number five.
I suppressed the urge to jump up and scream when I realized I could keep going. I opened the next until I came to number ten which was about the size of a pencil tip. I yelled to my husband to come and look. I was thrilled. My quest was complete. I went over to the counter and bought it right away.
The other day I was in my living room after reading a disappointing book by a best-selling author. I looked over at my two Matryoshka dolls on the shelf (one was a gift) and realized the similarities between my nesting doll quest and the search for a good book.
I like my doll that only has five, but it is not my favorite. My favorite is the one with ten in it. I like this one best because it goes deeper. Someone took the time to paint the tiny, unique details on each one and go as far as they could with this set.
My favorite books are the same way. The author has taken the time to create a plot that goes deep and gets to the core of the story. There is depth in the characters and I become entrenched in the story.
Reading a great book conjures up the same feelings I had when I found my perfect nesting doll. The anticipation built as I revealed each new doll. The same thing happens with a good book. The tension builds until it seems like it can't go any more, then a really good author keeps going with one more little "doll" until finally you get to the end, the last "doll." There is a feeling of great satisfaction as the reader and an urge to track down the author and give him/her a big hug and say thank you.
As you go back and reread/rework your own novel, short story or children's book, think about this, does your story stop at five dolls or does it go into more depth with ten. A five doll story can be nice-but a ten doll story is amazing. What kind of story do you want to write?
My quest continues for more ten doll Matryoshka dolls...and for more ten doll books.