Monday, August 27, 2012

What Do People Want: Good Writing or Good Story?

By Julie Daines

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?


5 comments:

Okie said...

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.

Bruce Luck said...

Good story.

There's a difference between good story and comfort story. The familiar feels good, we know where it's going and what to predict. However, unpredictable can make for good story. Isn't it exciting to fall into a book and be amazed at the ride the author takes you on? And good writing helps.

Yamile said...

Story is more important. The writing is a tool. But if the storyteller can't/doesn't know how to use it, then the story's potential isn't reached, and what a pity that is!

Julie Daines said...

Yamile, I think that is a great comment: The story's potential isn't reached. I think that perfectly summarizes what happens when a great story falls flat because of poor writing.

Scott said...

The story is vital, and a good story is a part of good writing, but I'll stand up for writing here. I have enjoyed many books with flawed stories because the writing was just THAT good. I love language and I love reading books in which language is masterfully used, and if that's good enough, I can forgive a many types of story flaws.

That said, when people say "good story" they usually mean "good plot." To me, they are two different things. The story is all about characters and their emotions, and how they grow or don't grow. The plot is must the means to give the characters something to do to reveal their story. (See http://utahchildrenswriters.blogspot.com/2010/11/emotional-plotting.html.)