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The Top Ten Stories of My Life

By Debbie Kaufman

This is a blog about stories that make the list.

What list?  A top ten list of books, movies, even TV shows that resonate within us long after we’ve read or viewed them.  I was reading Screenwriting Tricks for Authors by Alexandra Sokoloff , a book I highly recommend, and she challenged her reader authors to make a master list of ten stories that are similar to the book you are writing, or the ten books and films that “you wished you had written,”  and then look at what the list says about you and your stories.

I started my list, but, not being much of a list maker (unlike my friend Tami Brothers who wrote this really cook post about listmaking)and distracted as I can often be, I turned it into a master list of top ten stories that have resonated with me–the ones I would and have read or watched again and again.  I wondered what that list would say about me personally or if it might direct my writing.  And yes, I’ll get back on track for the lists Sokoloff would have me make, but this seemed to need to come first for me.

I have only come up with eight so far, and I didn’t always focus on a specific title if a series grabbed me.  Some of these may get bumped off the list before I’m through, but I’ve decided per Sokoloff’s advice that the list should be fluid, not written in stone.

Here’s my list so far:

1. Lord of the Rings by J.R. R. Tolkein

2. The Sackett Series by Louis L’Amour

3. The Wizard of Oz (film version)

4. Redeemed by Francine Rivers

5. Star Wars (Lucasfilms)

6. The Dragonriders of Pern books by Anne McCaffrey

7. The Spencer detective series by Robert B. Parker

8. The J. D. Robb books by Nora Roberts

So far, I see two themes running strongly through my list: the everyday man triumphing over great odds, and good taking a stand against evil/injustice. Redeemed is the wild card, a strong tale of forgiveness.  This blog is too short for me to share stories of the autobiographical kind that reflect both those themes in my life.  The list is teaching me a lot about myself.

Do you have a book or movie that has truly resonated with you and would make your master list?  Do share!

Marilyn Baron - November 13, 2012 - 8:55 am


There are so many great books out there, my list would have to be fluid. So I’ll just share the book(s) I’ve recently read that would make my Top 10 List. Or rather the two books. They are the first two books in the Ken Follett Century Trilogy: Fall of Giants and Winter of the World. I loved those books. What does that say about me? That I love books about World War II. Actually, the first book is about World War I and the second is about World War II. I love his characters and the same characters in the first book appear in the sequel and so do their children. He’s a great storyteller and the history of those periods come alive through his writing.

My favorite movie, Casablanca. Why? Because it’s about World War II.

Debbie Kaufman - November 13, 2012 - 9:04 am

Yes, Marilyn, I do sense a them there :) But what’s not to love about a great storyteller with generational books! But when you think about it more, what is it about WWII that draws you? I mentioned on your post about Berlin
that I was faascinated by Holocaust stories. I think it’s that good versus evil/injustice story that draws me in there.

Maxine Davis - November 13, 2012 - 12:11 pm

Since I think J.K. Rowling and Agatha Christie are both brilliant, I would love to write those books. One of my favorite movies was on this weekend, Witness for the Prosceution. I don’t write their genres, but wish I did. I do love a good mystery.

Amit Verma - November 13, 2012 - 12:41 pm

Awesome post. Love it :-)

Debbie Kaufman - November 13, 2012 - 2:08 pm

Maxine, no worries there. Maybe I should be writing outer space instead of jungle missionaries, LOL!

Debbie Kaufman - November 13, 2012 - 2:08 pm

Amit, thanks for stopping by today!

Susan Carlisle - November 13, 2012 - 2:12 pm

I wish I’d written the Laura Ingles Wilder series, James Bond books and movies, Gone with the Wind, Bridget Jones series, the All Things Great and Small series. I don’t what the theme is in these. Maybe twisted mind?

Carol Burnside - November 13, 2012 - 3:55 pm

Ah, Susan brought back memories with her mention of the Little House Series. Loved, loved, loved those and the TV series based on them. The J.D. Robb series is my current favorite and I know the characters will stay with me for a long time. I would love to have written all those. I think my themes would run along yours, Debbie, for everything else that comes to mind mirrors those themes too. A lot of the TV shows I write are the common man succeeding against adversity. As a child, I read a lot of Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew – good vs. evil again.

Interesting and thought-provoking post. Good job!

Pamela Varnado - November 13, 2012 - 5:02 pm

Debbie, my taste in books and movies is so varied, I don’t think I could pinpoint one type of theme that runs through them all. I just finished reading the third book in a horror series by Chuck Hogan and Guilllermo Del Toro: The Strain, The Fall, and The Eternal Night. The series is a cross between Bram Stoker and Michael Crichton. I also love reading anything written by JD Robb, Christene Feehen, and Steven King.

Debbie Kaufman - November 13, 2012 - 6:33 pm

Susan, there goes another revision to my list. Oh, Carol, yes to Nancy Drew!

Debbie Kaufman - November 13, 2012 - 6:34 pm

Pamela, the funny thing was that it wasn’t until I actually made the list and looked at it that I saw a commonality!

Sandra Elzie - November 14, 2012 - 6:20 am

Can’t believe I missed commenting yesterday! Yes, I have movies & books that I read/watch over and over. The theme that tends to run through them is that love triumphs over all else. Well, we know that’s not necessarily life, but that’s the way I’d like life to be & I find that I watch TV & read books to 1) be entertained (forgetting the not fairness of the world today 2) that the good guy MUST always win in the end….also not like the world today.

Debbie Kaufman - November 15, 2012 - 7:26 am

Sandy, I almost talked to you first because I knew you and your hubby could probably list any movie I could vaguely remember :)
Great theme. We could use more of that in the world :)

[…] (c) 123RF Stock PhotosRecently, Debbie Kauffman shared a special list on the blog Petit Fours and Hot Tamales. Her inspiration came from Screenwriting Tricks for Authors by Alexandra Sokoloff in which writers […]

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