In his book, Story Craft, John R. Erickson says that one of the biggest challenges he faced as a young author was figuring out, "What is a story, and what is it supposed to do?"
Those were simple questions, he says, but they didn't have simple answers. We could say that he found his answers when he wrote and self-published the first Hank the Cowdog book in 1983. The series now stands at 54 books with over 7.5 million copies sold.
For 26 years, Erickson was content to leave it there.
But after receiving hundreds of letters from teachers and parents, he began to realize that his actual business was not books, but "spiritual nourishment." Good stories nourish the human spirit, and it doesn't happen by accident.
Part 1 of the book describes Erickson's experiences as an apprentice writer and publisher. In Part 2, he attempts to defiine what a story should be and how it relates to culture and religious faith. And in Part 3, he gives helpful, practical advice to aspiring writers.