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Writing in 140: What Makes a Book "Good"?

Featuring guest star, author Miki Starr Martin [website].

What makes a book "good"?

Shon: A “good book” is pretty subjective. There’s no one type of good book, but I believe there are “objective” components that are necessary to make a good book like strong characters, great action and dialogue, heightened conflict, etc.

Miki: Not only that but a clear understanding on the part of the author is just as important to constructing a good book. An author with no true connection to the characters and the world which the author has created will read like formula fiction. Being that what makes a book “good” is indeed subjective, it’s that connection and commitment that makes a good story great.

What makes a book good to you?

Writing in 140 is my attempt to say something somewhat relevant about writing in 140 words or less.


Shon Bacon is an author, editor, and educator. She has published both creatively and academically, and her debut solo novel, Death at the Double Inkwell is now available for purchase. Shon also interviews women writers on her popular blog ChickLitGurrl: high on LATTES & WRITING. You can learn more about Shon's writings at her official website, and you can get information about her editorial services at CLG Entertainment. Currently, Shon is busy editing, promoting her debut project, and pursuing her Ph.D. in Technical Communication and Rhetoric at Texas Tech University.

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  1. I agree. Knowing you characters intimately translates into the feel of real people to the reader. People that we all care about and can cheer for during their adventure in the book.

  2. I love this. It is all subjective, for sure.

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  4. Good writing pulls me into the story and the characters. It makes me hate to put the book down.

    What attracts readers is different for different people, though.

  5. I've said this before: Culture

    A book that can introduce readers to new culture makes a good book. If the author can explain it in a way that allows a reader who may never get a chance otherwise to experience that culture, the book is good.

    I don't just mean culture in the common foriengn global sense but in any sense. J.K. Rowliing, for instance, created a whole new world full of culture which drew children in. In addition a lot of American readers were enthused by the Brittish culture thrown in. But it can be anything from gender, to region to animals. It ultimately sets the stage for intriguing characters and the desire from the reader to learn more or feel they can relate (win win).

  6. A good book is one that puts me in a trance with the first sentence and keeps me there until the end

  7. A good book is one that puts me in a trance with the first sentence and keeps me there until the end

  8. A "good" book is in the eye/mind of the reader. It is definitely subjective, and sometimes there's no accounting for taste. :)

  9. A good book is one you absolutely do not want to put down. You are intrigued, and what makes it good certainly is in the view of the reader.

    Perhaps it is the subjective connection that can exist only between the two of you--the reader and the author.

  10. For me it is the relationships between characters. No character is an island, to paraphrase John Donne.

    Word 4 Writers on HearWriteNow
    Blood-Red Pencil

  11. What draws me into a book is a central character I can really care about. Good writing will keep me there, and by that I mean words the author has really put some thought into, not just gone with the first thing that came out of the keyboard.

  12. Sometimes it starts out as a gimmick, but to keep my interest, I do need to connect somehow with the character.

    Morgan Mandel

  13. Sometimes, I'm not a fan of talking about writing being subjective because there are some people who take that mean writing is so subjective that anyone can do it and do it well, and that's not necessarily true. There are components of writing that are necessary in making a book "good" for me. I mean I never deemed a book "good" because it was full of flat characters with no real development or tension.

  14. I look for the reader/character connection. If I cannot relate to the protagonist (or at least to one of the main characters), I won't read the book. Next on the list comes good, solid editing. I've walked away from two well-know authors in recent years because their books became increasingly poorly edited. When I'm so distracted by bad editing that I lose the storyline, I'm gone—permanently.


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