There has been a lot of buzz lately about whether the publishing industry sets the bar on writing too high, and that what people really want is just a good story.
So which is it? Writing or Story?
Do readers only care about easy entertainment? Do they like the familiarity of the same stories told over and over again with only minor plot changes? Is real life so stressful that all we want is to lose ourselves in a simple, predictable form of entertainment?
I have a friend who said she didn't want to read books that challenged her way of thinking. She said she already finished college and didn't want her reading to feel like homework. Is that how everyone feels?
Some people worry that really great works of fiction will be overlooked as more and more readers get caught up in the commercial, no-brainer stories, and then all we'll have left is the slush pile.
Is there still room for good writing and thought provoking works of fiction? Years from now, who will we be quoting?
Is this surge of mediocrity in fiction only a phase brought on by poor economic times? Or is society lowering its standards?
What place does the indy and self-publishing industry hold in all this turmoil?
Which is more important to a work of fiction, good story or good writing?
"There has been a lot of buzz lately about whether the publishing industry sets the bar on writing too high"ReplyDelete
You mean the same publishing industry that published Twilight, 50 Shades of Grey, and Snooki's "novel"? Yeah, I don't think the bar is that high if you have a marketable idea.
Well, I wasn't going to name any names, but since you did it for me...thanks!Delete
For the most part, I'm in it for the story. But if bad writing distracts from the story, that's a big turn off. If I can get a good story with good writing at the same time, that's what I really want.ReplyDelete
It does seem like a little bad writing or a minor flaw in the story can be overlooked. But it's really bad, it distracts way too much.Delete
I will occassionally read a book that is story over good writing, but the more I write and the more I read, the more selective I am with what I invest in. I think lighter genres can still be well written; for example, Susan Elizabeth Phillips is a romance writer, but her characters are full of depth and the plots are intricately woven within the character's journey. Still, she always ends with a happy conclusion. I like to read good fluff, which in the end, I don't really consider fluff, even if it's not deeply thought provoking.ReplyDelete
On the other hand, I couldn't get more than a few pages down of 50 Shades of Grey. It was just SO bad, plus I'm not into erotic fiction, especially a poorly rendered version of any genre. So I draw the line when something is overhyped and truly bad quality.
A big problem with being a writer is that--at least for me--it's impossible to turn off the inner editor. And I agree with you, just because a book is considered lighter, or commercial, or a romance doesn't mean it can't have beautiful, deep characters and writing.Delete
I agree! Being a part of writer's groups has been eye opening. I can see how much work goes into even a category romance (say for Harlequin) which I might have totally dismissed as "cheesy" before even though I hadn't read it. Some of those books, while the plot may be predictable, featuring interesting characters, most of which (at least in modern romance) are strong female characters grappling with larger life choices, among the romance plot. I will give any book a chance, at least 20 pages. :)Delete
I try to give every book a chance too, but when it's so ridden by cliches or cookie-cutter plots and characters, I just can't sacrifice my time. i have too many books in my beloved TBR pile. And when I need a dose of awesome writing to inspire me, I go back to "my" classics.Delete
I like a good, quick story some days and others I want something I have to stop and think about. BUT if the writing isn't great, I have a hard time grasping the story.ReplyDelete
I know I've loved a book if I'm still thinking about it a few days after I finished it.Delete
I think the best books have an even balance of both, but I think I lean towards good writing over story. I've always read mostly older books, so I'm used to a more literary style, not fast-paced, plot-centric stories. To be honest, I think a lot of modern books have suffered in this department because there's a trend towards shorter books. When a book is only 250-300 pages, there's not always room for ample character and story development. I like to read rich, multi-layered, evocative, stirring language, not race from Point A to Point B within a set amount of pages.ReplyDelete
It does seem like people who don't read many of the classics struggle with longer, gently paced, literary books. We live in a world of instant gratification instead of joy in the journey.Delete
But slow-cooked foods are the most comforting (except for sushi :-) People don't know what they're missing!Delete
People don't know what they're missing. It's like when someone picks up a Jane Austen or Charles Dickens and then they complain that there is too much description and it's too slow. Well, that is how it is supposed to be. They wrote every single word with purpose, and if readers take the time to consider why those words are important to the author, they will get so much more out of the book.Delete
I believe a good story is better. On the same note though, if the writing is so poor it draws my attention away from the story, well then I would have to say that writing is the more important of the two. I have a new story up on the blog if you get the chance to check it out! Good story, poor writing! HahahaReplyDelete
Hey T.J. Nice to hear from you! You know I love your stories so I'll definitely be checking it out.Delete
Both! But I agree with Stephsco about enjoying "good fluff". Good writing doesn't necessarily have to be Dickens or something deep about a controversial issue. People comment a lot on how much YA fiction I read. Just because it's YA fiction doesn't mean it's bad writing. I think you can agree with that :) That's why I always get so mad (unreasonably so) when people lump Twilight and Harry Potter into the same category. They are both YA fantasies that are very popular, and that's where the similarities end! I'll be honest, I enjoyed reading Twilight as much as the next twenty-something mom did, but I can clearly see it is plot over writing. And the last three books lacked both!ReplyDelete
Also, I think it's easier to get through a book with a good plot and poor writing than vice versa. Certainly the ideal is to have both good writing and an entertaining plot.
Of course you're right. The bottom line is to have both! But that is so much easier said than done!!!Delete
And good YA books are the best! :)
I think the story comes first, but only by a tiny bit. The story is what snares you and keeps you reading until 3am, but at the end, if it's only a good story, I'm way less likely to recommend it to a friend. How many times have I taken a book from you because you said the writing was really great? So I guess I think the plot is what first attracts you to a book, but the writing is what makes you fall deeply in love with it.ReplyDelete