Acknowledgments

For [them], because [this].

The first page you’re going to find in a book is this: the acknowledgments. The touching if seemingly irrelevant sentence dedicating this work of words and paper to a particular person in the world out there.

You will never know why the author picked that sentence to grace their first fully-print page. You may never even read it.  But the acknowledgment is, in my mind, one of the single most important things about a book.

Stories need community almost more than they need anything else. They need fresh eyes, second opinions, objective sources, subjective sources (that aren’t you). Stories need people who are important to them more than most people would think. An extremely popular way of thinking about one’s best (or even just your current) project is “but it’s too important to show people!” which is true. It is important and doesn’t need to be flung into a million people’s faces. But what it does need is someone to talk to.

You, the author, are the driving force and the soul of your novel. You’re writing it, you know the ins and outs and back roads of it, you’re dealing with the nitty-gritty parts of how to fit scenes together and how character arcs work. You’re important! Very important! Your novel can’t exist without you. But you are also to your novel as a trail guide is to their tour group, (there’s a reason people are proud of their works of art, you know) and in being such you can’t also be a therapist, tutor, and personal trainer.

This is where the Best Friend of the Novel comes in. Stories are meant to be told to people, and millions of stories are meant to be told for specific people. And even if this specific person is only the acknowledged because they are important to the author, even if they didn’t actively help with the writing process, they are still basically the reason that this book is what it is. The author, consciously or not, has written with them in mind, because of a myriad of reasons.

No matter how it actually happened, that person was important to this story. And that is an invaluable thing to have. Because without that, the story may never have happened. Stories grow because of the community they surround themselves with. Author, closest confidant, beta tester, proofreader. No story would be what it is without the people involved in it.

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