Good storytelling, bad writing

When I pick up a book from the library or bookstore and read the back cover, I get intrigued by the plot of the story. But before I make that selection, I open to the middle of the book and read a couple of pages. If my skin starts to crawl, it’s over. The book goes back on the shelf. Bad writing can totally kill a good story plot.

Sometimes writers (especially novelists) are so hung up on book sales and getting their names out there, that they forget we have to actually read the book. Writers can get obsessed with elements like how many people are going to die, is there a cliff hanger at the end of every chapter, or how many characters are mentally unstable and what are they doing to move the story along. These things (and more) supposedly help sell books.

Yes, it’s true that in this fast-paced world it’s harder to keep a reader’s attention. How many people are interested in deconstructing the symbolism of your novel? How many want to plow through the allegory in your memoir? Not many. But please remember that you are a writer. Writing is an art, a craft. And good writing is about more than good storytelling. Good writing pulls the reader in and makes them a part of your journey. And isn’t that what will keep your readers buying?

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