Booking Through Thursday: Good or Bad

I’ve seen many bloggers say that what draws them to certain books or authors is good writing, and what causes them to stop reading a certain book or author is bad writing. What constitutes good writing and bad writing to you?

Wow, that’s quite a broad topic! Let’s see if I can’t boil it down in a few minutes…

The first thing that leaps to mind when I think about good writing is the eye for detail that Michael Chabon exemplifies–but there’s also things like plot structure, banter, and character development. When I think about bad writing, I think about authors who fail at those things–splitting a whole plot in half for no reason, tinny banter, and caricatured characters. Obviously, they’re different sides of the same coin. Good writing serves the story, which isn’t to say it serves the plot–according to Stephen King, the two are different (although I don’t agree with his dourness on the subject of plots). Bad writing detracts from the story.

20 thoughts on “Booking Through Thursday: Good or Bad

  1. I like your take on this. I think that good writing is not necessarily the same as beautiful prose – what people sometimes refer to as “plebeian writing” often does the job it set out to do very well indeed, as if not, why should we not call it good writing? So yeah, for me bad writing is also writing that detracts from the story or that I find distracting. Writing that doesn’t stand out because it’s serviceable, though, definitely falls under my definition of “good”.

  2. I’m reading a book right now that sounded like it would be a great story, judging from the synopsis and the concept of it.

    But the language is killing the story for me. The writer moves back and forth in time without giving us the seamless transitions that would make this work for me. She handles the ideas clumsily, and instead of finding something appealing in the characters or the plot, I’m yawning and trying not to snooze.

    I have to finish it—it’s a review book. Later I’ll tell you more about the book when I review it. Maybe there will be something that redeems it in the eleventh hour.

  3. Extending a novel into a series for no other reason than to sell more books is an example of bad writing, at least for me.

    Too many SF and fantasy series have a concept or story that would work for a book and seem to extend it to three or four book series these days. Of course, I also believe if you’re going to do a series you should have an idea of where it will end before you publish the first book.

    I’m not saying it can’t take a turn based on how the writing goes, but at least have an idea of where the finish line is.

  4. I absolutely love the idea of whether something “serves the story.” I hate it when authors seem to be including their favorite turn of phrase or plot construct, but it doesn’t really fit in the story!

    Here’s my BTT.

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