Monday, September 12, 2011

Battle of the Century: Story vs. Writing

Quote of the Day: "I think God, in creating man, somewhat overestimated his ability." ~Oscar Wilde

This is the question I've been asking myself lately: What makes for the best books--sublime writing or an amazing story?

If you hope to win a Newbery Honor, you might need to lean toward perfect writing. If you want to make it to the New York Times best-seller list, then a well crafted story could be enough.

I read a book a few months ago where the writing was so awful I wanted to throw the book at the wall. How could this much telling and repetitive language make it to the NYT best-sellers list? Didn't this author know anything about good writing? But the truth is, I couldn't put it down. I had to read all night to find out what happens. The intense, original story and great characters drew me.

Last week I read book with some fantastic writing--clever, moving, full of meaningful imagery, great dialogue. But I had to force myself to finish it. I didn't care about the main character, I didn't care about her friends. All that beautiful language was wasted on yet another story of a tortured teen who suddenly discovers she has super/paranormal powers and then finds herself in cliched situations. It was so predictable, I already knew the ending by reading the jacket cover.

Of course the best answer is C) All of the above. Writing and plot working together in perfect--and perfected--unison.

So, what do you think? Story versus Writing Throwdown--who wins?


  1. The best books I know combine both. (not the answer you were looking for, I know)

  2. Hi, I read your guest blogpost on Taffy's blog and wanted to thank you. It was just what I needed to help with showing emotion in my current WIP.

  3. I hate it when bad writing becomes a best-seller. but at the same time, good writing w/out great plot and great characters holds nothing for me. I don't care how great everyone thinks it is, I'll put it down!