What makes a book “great”? This is a question that people and writers have been asking themselves for as long as literature has existed. There’s no simple metric to measure how great a book is, but there are certain things that all great books have in common. None of them have non-great writing. Wait, what? This might seem like a statement made by some hackneyed philosopher, but the truth is that great writing is as much about what isn’t written on the page as much as it is about what is written. To put it another way, great writers know what should go in a book as much as they know what shouldn’t go in a book. This begs the question, what shouldn’t go in a book?
Starting off at the absolute basics, poor grammar, spelling, and things like weak verbs should not go in a book. This might seem obvious, but it’s also obvious that these things are not found in great works of writing. Moving onto some bigger issues, it’s vital that there aren’t logical inconsistencies in your writing. Nothing takes a reader out of the moment more than bad logic. If your cop character has to give up their badge and gun then they can’t have those things later! Speaking of cops, as a writer you don’t want to tackle a detective story if you don’t have a good handle on how the due process works. People can sniff out an imposter when it comes to this material. Do your research before adding in a bunch of material that doesn’t line up with the reality of the world. These things might seem obvious, but they’re absolutely worth reiterating.
When it comes to the actual material of your story there are several pitfalls you’ll want to avoid. Don’t tack on a bunch of repetitive or extraneous information. People will lose interest if your story goes off on too much of a tangent or if you keep hitting them over the head with the same information repeatedly. Don’t underestimate the intelligence of your readers! That being said, you don’t want your material to go the opposite direction and be confusing. Writing does not always translate perfectly from the mind to the page so confusion happens frequently. Listen to your editors or test readers when they tell you a section is confusing and try to find a way to connect the pieces better. Another issue writers can have is not providing enough detail to create a vivid, dynamic image. This is described as “flat” writing and it can destroy an otherwise great book. People need to feel the story and flat writing can destroy that connection. Novelty is also critical when it comes to a great book. If people find the writing too derivative or uninventive then they’ll likely seek out something else that is.
Anyone who has ever tried writing a book knows that great writing is incredibly challenging. Take into account all of this advice to help you think about what to write, as well as what you shouldn’t write! Take a look at the full list of advice in the article below!
Read the full article here: The Key To Great Writing
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