“Good” Writing

The book world seems to be a hotbed these days. First we had the line between traditional authors and indie authors, and now indie, or self published authors, are drawing lines based on where they publish. Just Amazon? Or everywhere? It seems like a business decision to me, that each author should make for themselves, but I’ve seen some heated and mean conversations online about it. Along with that, there’s an almost frantic search for all information on book marketing and the best tips. You know, the secrets that really work. It could lead one to believe the way to make it as an author is through marketing. All this has been on my mind because you can get so focused on it that you’re not writing or improving your storytelling abilities. I want to believe the writing industry is still about producing great stories, and that the best books will spread by reader word of mouth.

I’ll admit I look at the bestsellers and think about what makes them sell. But I don’t simply look at how the book is marketed, I also look at what’s in the story that draws readers in. We love strong characters that we identify with, especially when they’re facing a giant hurdle. Sometimes it’s a hurdle we might encounter, and other times it symbolizes some kind of hardship or rite of passage. Those huge bestsellers all seem to take us somewhere new and different, even if that’s back in time. Think of Water for Elephants. It’s a very different story. Or The Help. Both of those novels take me to a reality that I didn’t know about in such depth. I haven’t read The Hunger Games yet, but I can tell they take you to a different time or dimension. In some books, that “other place” is just a small town with an engaging cast of characters. This element is one aspect of a great story. Another thing I’ve noticed is that I can’t always put my finger on it. That might be the best part for me. I read a story and savor it, and find myself going back again and again to think about the characters, what something really meant, or how other characters might have done it differently. Memorable characters, there’s something to that…

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