Today, I’m delighted to welcome my good friend, Carmen Stefanescu back to my blog with a post about the qualities that go into a good book. I’d love to get your opinion in the comments, and I know Carmen would too. So….
To be or not to be a good book?
By Carmen Stefanescu
The question What makes a good book? has been popping up in my head quite a bit lately while reading, and especially, writing my own books.
I stop writing only to reread what I’ve written and wonder, “Is this good?”
Now, what is a good book? I think it’s a legitimate question to ask ourselves. What defines good? Should it be my own definition, someone else’s, or based on popular opinion? The opinion of what makes a good book is almost entirely subjective.
Think of an old favorite book you’ve read again and again. Can you picture it in your head, almost as if you had a copy in your hands, ready to open and start reading right now?
Think about it for a while. Pick the story apart and mull it over a bit. What makes you love the story? What makes you keep coming back to it time and again? What makes your mind wander back to the story and muse about it? What qualities of that book do you love and cherish?
What are the elements of a good book for me? Well, here’s what I have in mind, speaking from a reader’s POV:
The best kind of plot is one that keeps people reading because they are so engrossed and intrigued that they just can’t put the book down. Personally, I like when I don’t know what’s going to happen in a plot. Predictability is something I tend to dislike because, in my eyes, nothing kills a story faster than too much predictability. Predictability in small doses is fine – but readers don’t want to be right all the time. Unnecessary scenes that don’t add to the plot or character growth in any way, shape, or form should be edited – or cut out completely.
ELEMENTS YOU RELATE TO
It doesn’t matter whether I’m reading mystery, paranormal or fantasy as long as there are realistic and relatable elements to the plot and characters. Realism may not apply to realms of fiction, but elements of realism always should. Nothing is perfect, not even in a utopian setting, because people are not perfect. The imperfections add a relatable element whatever story is being told.
Emotion is probably the highest relatable factor for me when I’m reading. I may never have met a vampire or kissed a shapeshifter, but I know the tugs of love and the irrational thoughts and passions that come with it. The circumstances don’t matter as long as readers feel along with the characters. It’s a challenge for writers, yes, but it leads to more of a deep and meaningful story.
Storytelling needs to have a flow to the writing – and there’s nothing that breaks a flow in storytelling like inconsistencies in characters, backstories, or the writing style itself.
Don’t you hate it when you’re reading a book that’s keeping you guessing – only to hit a snag and get thrown out of the story completely because you read something that just didn’t make sense? Writers need to know their worlds, the worlds’ rules, and the characters inhabiting said worlds. Readers will settle for the easy resolution but they don’t like them because they don’t reflect real life, which almost always bears struggle and conflict. Happily ever afters are preferred by readers, but they’re much more meaningful if the characters have ‘paid their dues’ to earn the HEA.
I often know a book will be good if I am envious of the writing. While that sounds a weird thing to say, keep in mind that I am a writer myself. If I can read a first passage in a book and think, “Wow, I wish I could write like this,” then that’s saying something, isn’t it?
Though tastes vary, descriptions aren’t a bad thing since a writing style can help give a book its own specific kind of atmosphere. The point, is less is more. Not many readers like to barrel through paragraphs of description, no matter how beautifully written, because it slogs down the story.
I may be a bit critical, but I always fall hard for characters. I look at it this way: why read about characters I don’t like? I want to root for that character no matter what. I want to stand behind him/her and his/her decisions. I want to follow him/her on whatever journey is unfolding in his/her life.
Flaws and ambiguity. They’re necessary. Why did so many of us Pride and Prejudice fans come out loving Darcy, arrogant man that he could be? Because he was flawed and ambiguous only to show greater depth and emotion than any reader had likely imagined.
To conclude – I leave the question to all your followers: what makes a good book for you? Make it a big question of the day, because, honestly, isn’t a good book what anyone is hoping for any time they sit down and open a book to read?
Keep your reader reading.
Carmen Stefanescu resides in Romania, the native country of the infamous vampire Count Dracula, but where, for about 50 years of communist dictatorship, just speaking about God, faith, reincarnation or paranormal phenomena could have led someone to great trouble – the psychiatric hospital if not to prison.
High school teacher of English and German in her native country, and mother of two daughters, Carmen Stefanescu survived the grim years of oppression, by escaping in a parallel world that of the books.
Several of her poems were successfully published in a collection of Contemporary English Poems, Muse Whispers vol.1 and Muse Whispers vol.2 by Midnight Edition Publication, in 2001 and 2002.
Her first novel, Shadows of the Past, was released in 2012 by Wild Child Publishing, USA.
Carmen joined the volunteer staff at Marketing For Romance Writers Author blog and is the coordinator of #Thursday13 posts.
Books by Carmen Stefanescu
Shadows of the Past
Paranormal/light romance/light historical/light mystery
Till Life Do Us Part
Paranormal/light romance/light historical/light mystery
I don’t know about where you live, but here, in Romania we experienced a heat wave this past summer with temperature over 45 Celsius degrees. Hot! The weather brought thunderstorms and lightening strikes. Did I say I was happy for summer to end, even though I don’t really like autumn? Here are my feelings about autumn:
Autumn has turned up
on my doorstep.
Drenched, tempestuous, frowned.
Rusted leaves are coiled
in her dripping hair,
a gray, foggy cape
wrapping her to the ground.
She pierces my soul with
cold, distant eyes.
Her breath smells of
rottenness and rain.
Dejected I bend my head,
and I sigh.
My hopes she forgot
where I lived were in vain.