There is a unique feeling that one gets when finishing a novel. When one closes the back cover of a book, it isn’t quite over yet. If you’d look carefully, you’d see a fine trickle of fairy dust flowing from that last page and right into the reader’s mind – it is the story, refusing to lose its hold on a reader so quickly and to be put back on a shelf as if it doesn’t matter. The story would much rather walk around with the reader for a while, influencing his or her thoughts and ideas.
Stories are living things, full of their own characterizations, personality quirks, stylistic choices and charm. They can cause a reader to think seriously about an issue, to laugh hours later at a funny incident, to remember fondly a particular passage or simply to contemplate the way the story ended and what that means. Stories can play with their readers minds, causing them to jump at sounds in the night if they’re scary, or to sigh over a couple kissing if they’re romantic.
And so, even when a reader puts a just-finished book back on the shelf and leaves it, the story sticks around, replaying images and words in the mind’s eye. It is one of the greatest wonders of words, that they’re able, within a few hundred pages – and what are pages? Such flimsy things – to preoccupy the reader’s thoughts and affect them. Words are powerful, and stories focus their power.