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Booking Through Thursday

Written by Kirsten on November 4th, 2010

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?

My idea of “good” writing is writing that makes me stop and re-read a sentence because of how beautifully or powerfully it conveys its meaning. Additionally, writing that breaks the conventions of “traditional” language structure as a part of the overall experience typically strikes me as exceptional, though it has to be well-crafted and consistent (Zuzak’s The Book Thief comes to mind).

“Bad” writing is tough to nail down, because while I don’t always think writing I don’t enjoy is “bad,” I wouldn’t call it “good,” either. I suppose standard, “He said this. Then they did this. The next day, this happened,” would technically be considered mediocre. For truly “bad” writing, I’d say poor syntax, redundancy, inconsistencies throughout the text, and underdeveloped characters or plot lines are all super pet peeves of mine. While a mediocre book’s author may get a second go-round if I liked the story, a bad book’s writer doesn’t get another shot. Life is too short to read bad books!

What are your thoughts? Share them here, or post on your own blog and drop me a link!


2 Comments so far ↓

  1. Dogearedcopy says:

    Right now I’m listening to THE REAPERS ARE THE ANGELS (by Alden Bell; narrated by Tai Sammons.) I don’t know how it will end yet; but I do know that I’m hearing some amazing writing and he will have to royally screw this up for me not to end up raving about it. There are descriptive phrases that make me stop and rewind so I can hear them again. How can that turn of a phrase be so absolutely perfect? So absolutely clear and right? I started to write them down; but there are too many. I may end up buying the print copy just so I can quote him accurately later.

    Good writing to me is much less about correct grammar or editing but much more about being “true.” I’m not talking about fiction vs non-fiction but the writing that makes a thought, setting and/or character very real and believable, nearly tangible. One of the best examples of this is Karl Marlantes’ MATTERHORN: A NOVEL OF VIETNAM. It dumped me into the middle of a jungle and, when the book was over, it took me two weeks to come in from the bush!

    Bad writing will put me off reading a certain author or even genre for a while. *Really* bad writing will have me realizing that I have better things to do than read and I’ve been known to go into reading slumps for months. ECLIPSE (The Twilight Saga #3 by Stephenie Meyer) put me off reading for awhile and, HER FEARFUL SYMMETRY (by Audrey Neffenegger) I DNF-ed because I saw it coming. *Really* bad writing will send me into ranty rages, especially when I’m not expecting it.

    • Kirsten says:

      Haha, I wish I could say the same about the Twilight series! While I absolutely agree that the writing is horrific, the compelling story (even if it feels like a train falling over the edge of a ravine) was enough to keep me invested, and the fluff nature of the whole saga added to its appeal as a re-read when I needed something entirely mindless.

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