What makes great writing… great?

What makes great writing, great? Because I have no real idea why I can open one book and eagerly devour it in one sitting and then read another in dribs and drabs over the course of one month. What makes one book better than another? Or does it have nothing to do with the writing and it’s all about the plot and the characters?

I understand that this question is subjective and everyone will probably have a completely different response. But why is “good” writing so… well… good?

I like to read books with strong female characters. Especially ones I can get behind and cheer for. But then I’ve read other books that are nothing like that, and loved them just as much. I like writing that is light and flows easily. I like a strong voice and minimal description… but at the same time, I want to feel like I’m there.

What I’m basically trying to say is… I have no idea what makes great writing, great.

What do you think?

About Jodie @ Words Read & Written

Book blogger & aspiring author.
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74 Responses to What makes great writing… great?

  1. Cassandra says:

    Good writing grabs ya. And then it keeps you there.

    Like

  2. Cassandra says:

    Good writing grabs ya. And then it keeps you there.

    Like

  3. davemstrom says:

    Emotion grabs the reader. The best open mic I ever did (reading from the novel I’ve been working on since the stone age) was when I broke my superheroine’s heart (oh no, my batguy is dead!) and then put it back together (oh joy, he’s alive!). Look up Alfred Hitchcock on YouTube: The Difference Between Mystery & Suspense, On Mastering Cinematic Tension, and On Evoking An Emotional Response. I am going to do a little rewriting on a short story today, and I will do it EMOTIONALLY. My superheroine Holly is MAD, or SAD, or FRUSTRATED, or GIGGLY HAPPY.

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  4. davemstrom says:

    Emotion grabs the reader. The best open mic I ever did (reading from the novel I’ve been working on since the stone age) was when I broke my superheroine’s heart (oh no, my batguy is dead!) and then put it back together (oh joy, he’s alive!). Look up Alfred Hitchcock on YouTube: The Difference Between Mystery & Suspense, On Mastering Cinematic Tension, and On Evoking An Emotional Response. I am going to do a little rewriting on a short story today, and I will do it EMOTIONALLY. My superheroine Holly is MAD, or SAD, or FRUSTRATED, or GIGGLY HAPPY.

    Like

  5. Really like your blog so I’ve nominated you for a Liebster Award. Here’s the information and Good Luck! http://theroadtonewbery.wordpress.com/2014/02/01/getting-noticed-its-nice/

    Like

  6. Really like your blog so I’ve nominated you for a Liebster Award. Here’s the information and Good Luck! http://theroadtonewbery.wordpress.com/2014/02/01/getting-noticed-its-nice/

    Like

  7. theravenwine says:

    Good writing is something that speaks to me, something that I respond emotionally to. This response is not something I can control – it just happens and when that happens, when I feel that familiar tugging at my heart, I know it’s good writing, at least to me. 🙂

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  8. theravenwine says:

    Good writing is something that speaks to me, something that I respond emotionally to. This response is not something I can control – it just happens and when that happens, when I feel that familiar tugging at my heart, I know it’s good writing, at least to me. 🙂

    Like

  9. faydescape says:

    I feel like when you start reading a book and start to get into it you can really tell if it’s a great book or not. It’s about what draws you in, what makes you question the plot or characters or infer as to what will happen. For a book to be great instead of just good, you also need to keep the pacing and flow of emotion and action steady. I’ve read some very popular books where by the middle or end the action fell flat and stagnant. Enough action to keep the reader interested, but not so much that the all the characters are doing is running (figuratively or literally) at or away from problems.

    Like

  10. faydescape says:

    I feel like when you start reading a book and start to get into it you can really tell if it’s a great book or not. It’s about what draws you in, what makes you question the plot or characters or infer as to what will happen. For a book to be great instead of just good, you also need to keep the pacing and flow of emotion and action steady. I’ve read some very popular books where by the middle or end the action fell flat and stagnant. Enough action to keep the reader interested, but not so much that the all the characters are doing is running (figuratively or literally) at or away from problems.

    Like

  11. Cay says:

    I have to connect with the main character. She or he might not be a very sympathetic or nice person, but there must be something about him or her that I can relate to or that I find intriguing and that triggers my curiosity.

    I like calm characters. Very temperamental or aggressive protagonists tend to turn me off. They become exhausting and frustrating for me.

    I’m one of those that got no worries putting a book away for good if I don’t get that connection pretty early on, despite that friends might have told me that I HAVE to read that book because it’s life-altering good.

    Occasionally though, it has really paid of to struggle through 2/3 of the book and then at the end get a beautiful revelation when all the different pieces come together in the most amazing way. I can use Thousand Splendid Suns as an example. That book did nothing for me until I got to the 50 last pages or so, from that point onwards it was complete emotional meltdown.

    But why was Khaled Hosseini not able to create magic already from the beginning of the book? Got no idea. Maybe it took me the whole book to get to know the characters to the point where I actually connected with them.

    Like

  12. Cay says:

    I have to connect with the main character. She or he might not be a very sympathetic or nice person, but there must be something about him or her that I can relate to or that I find intriguing and that triggers my curiosity.

    I like calm characters. Very temperamental or aggressive protagonists tend to turn me off. They become exhausting and frustrating for me.

    I’m one of those that got no worries putting a book away for good if I don’t get that connection pretty early on, despite that friends might have told me that I HAVE to read that book because it’s life-altering good.

    Occasionally though, it has really paid of to struggle through 2/3 of the book and then at the end get a beautiful revelation when all the different pieces come together in the most amazing way. I can use Thousand Splendid Suns as an example. That book did nothing for me until I got to the 50 last pages or so, from that point onwards it was complete emotional meltdown.

    But why was Khaled Hosseini not able to create magic already from the beginning of the book? Got no idea. Maybe it took me the whole book to get to know the characters to the point where I actually connected with them.

    Like

  13. Thought provoking… I’d have to say character development is important. I love a complex character that can evoke a strong emotion like empathy or disgust.

    Like

  14. Thought provoking… I’d have to say character development is important. I love a complex character that can evoke a strong emotion like empathy or disgust.

    Like

  15. sandradan1 says:

    I love the Rickman quote. A great actor. SD

    Like

  16. sandradan1 says:

    I love the Rickman quote. A great actor. SD

    Like

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