There are certain conventions when it comes to judging a written piece. Show, don’t tell, don’t use adverbs, have uniform pacing, don’t vary the narrative voices too much, a linear narrative works best etc.

We also place too much importance on genres. We tend to categorise books as per genre and expect the storyline and tropes to be representative. When I read book reviews, I often come across book bloggers trying to slot the book, to argue in which genre it belongs, talk about plot, pacing and characterisation with respect to the genre.

Many of us hawkishly skim the works of other writers looking for adverbs, pointing out how the author has used them liberally and we feel superior for having recognised that.

However, many a times, I read a book that sort of turned the conventions on its head, those of show not tell, using adverbs etc and yet as a reader I loved the book. What was wrong? My experience as a reader or my experience as a writer?

I recently read a book that had a non linear narrative and that drew heavily from oral storytelling aspects and it worked so well. I talk of S. Hareesh’s ‘Moustache‘ in a blog post.

Reading and writing are the double helix of literary pursuits but we cannot ignore the importance of influences like other art forms, that are indigenous to us, namely oral storytelling, folk forms that are a window to our culture exposing the beliefs that have shaped us.

I often find a wealth of meaning in the folk songs. The choice of words, the wit, the themes, are all very indicative of the culture. Why then should we not draw from these forms and write.

What, as per you, makes a story beautiful, moving, or good?

This post is part of Blogchatter Half Marathon.


6 thoughts on “What Makes Writing Good

  1. Well, ‘good’ is a subjective term. Its criteria vary from person to person. But for the sake of generalization, it could be stated that every story makes a promise with its readers, and if it delivers what’s promised, it’s a good story. If it helps the readers in forgetting themselves by empathizing with the protagonists, it’s a good story.

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  2. I was recently going through the session we had with Samit Basu in March and he said that we should leave genres, etc. to the marketers. I think once you’re at a certain maturity – both as a reader and writer – such conventions stop mattering to you. What you look for is something that delights you.

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  3. For me, it has always been how the story affects me, as a person. I think not being a technically trained writer has helped me in reading. I don’t read to look for flaws in a book, but rather how the story moves.

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    1. That’s really good, being able to read just to appreciate the story, without worrying too much about other things, like the pacing or the setting.

      Sometimes, I can’t unsee these things in a book 😀

      Liked by 1 person

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