Thursday, April 12, 2012

"What makes a book well written?" My Useless Response to a Tweet

Last week on Twitter I observed that whenever a book is praised for "getting people to read" it's never because the book is well written.

To which another Tweeter asked, "What does a well written book have? I am trying to write one... what do you think makes a book well written?"

Hmm. That's pretty subjective. Also, it's easier for me to list what makes a book poorly written, so naturally I am taking the easy way out.

Don't Do This:

1. Unoriginal characters (and/or characters you don't care about)
2. Telling instead of showing (don't say things, prove them)
3. Cliches
4. Carelessness
5. Poor use of language
6. Overused or redundant phrases and descriptions
7. Inexplicable behavior (if I don't believe your characters would do something, or if I don't understand why they have done something, it throws me out of the story)

There! A perfect blueprint! Go forth and write!

Oh, was that not helpful?

Hmm, again. It's hard to make a list of what well written means. It's like pornography: you know it when you see it.

If I wish I'd written it, and/or I momentarily consider quitting writing altogether because Now There Is No Point, that means it was well written.

What do you think makes a book well written?


  1. OMG, you crack me up! I love your list of don'ts. Now if only I could spot each and every one of those and change them into brilliance. There are so many books I've read where I thought I wished I'd written it. Too many to list, but Hotel on the Corner of Bitter & Sweet is at the top of that list.

  2. I'd better tack the "Don't" list to my bulletin board. I like your gauge of, "Why didn't I write that?" So true.

  3. That is a perfect blueprint! Only 7 things I don't have to do? I will now create a masterpiece!