1. Eddyz Aquila
    Offline

    Eddyz Aquila Member

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2009
    Messages:
    95
    Likes Received:
    4

    What makes a literary work interesting?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Eddyz Aquila, Aug 31, 2009.

    Self explanatory title. Let's say you have a good idea, and you put it into words, but somehow your manuscript lacks the cunning edge, the detail needed for it to make it compelling and really interesting.

    Does it come down to descriptions, action? Or is it just the fluency of the entire text? :confused:

    I'm really curious about this one, I'm looking for ideas that I might apply into my own work as well. I'm really obsessed about how to make it interesting and "unable to put down". :redface:
     
  2. thirdwind
    Offline

    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2008
    Messages:
    7,351
    Likes Received:
    2,891
    Location:
    Boston
    Most people read to be entertained, so I would say go for something that is very plot driven if you want your audience to be hooked. Given the amount of bad writing on bestseller lists, I doubt most casual readers read something because it is well written. For example, if you look at book reviews on Amazon, you'll see that most reviewers focus on plot and characters more than anything else. For such readers, how well it's written is secondary or even tertiary.
     
  3. marina
    Offline

    marina Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2008
    Messages:
    1,280
    Likes Received:
    55
    Location:
    Seattle
    Expanding on what thirdwind said, a protagonist to whom you can relate or sympathize with makes the reader interested in their dilemma. Add to that on-going conflicts, and you've got a more interesting story.
     
  4. arron89
    Offline

    arron89 Banned

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2008
    Messages:
    2,460
    Likes Received:
    91
    Location:
    Auckland
    If you want to be successful as a literary author, its all about style. All. About. Style. It needs to be unique, distinct, original and inventive. You need to have a high level of mastery of language, you need to understand structures, you need to know all the technical things that make great books work and how.
    Like thirdwind said, popular fiction is often about being easy to read, immediate and entertaining - people reading that kind of fiction generally don't want to have to work too hard to find something of value in a book. Literary fiction is a little different - its assumed that the readers of lit fic are well-read, erudite and willing and able to analyse, deconstruct and find meaning in a work. Therefore it should be a satisfying experience in that sense. It should be subtle, layered, nuanced. It should draw on the literary canon to subvert or reinterpret familiar notions and concepts, and it should offer a reading experience that the reader will be able to return to again and again and always find some new detail....a new pattern, a new intertextual reference, a different way to interpret a section.
     
  5. Eddyz Aquila
    Offline

    Eddyz Aquila Member

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2009
    Messages:
    95
    Likes Received:
    4
    Ouch, that is so true. I bought two bestsellers, The Historian and Brethren, I dropped them after thirty pages each. Overly described or not described at all (battles in Brethren are at most sketchy), i was wondering how the heck did they end up bestsellers.
     
  6. bluebell80
    Offline

    bluebell80 Contributing Member

    Joined:
    May 20, 2009
    Messages:
    636
    Likes Received:
    18
    Location:
    Vermont
    I hate to be "that person", but here goes.

    For as much as I like writers like Jane Austin or Virginia Woolf, their writing is the equivalent to Valium to me. I can read it, but I can't read much before I am drooling on the pages of the book dreaming about something much more exciting. Both of the aforementioned writers are considered "literary", but that style is just so freaking boring. The wording sometimes takes several reads to understand as it is no longer the way we speak.

    What makes something currently "literary" (not classical) is totally up for interpretation, just like art is. Someone can see a big red dot in the center of a white canvas and call it a work of a genius artist...but someone else might look at it and say "It's just a stupid dot, my five year old could do that!" It's the same thing with many books that are considered "literary." Who deems it as literary, I don't know...someone out there does, and then it catches on in the masses of reviewers.

    Genre works are rarely considered literary. Yes there are some in the sci-fi, horror, or romance that might be considered literary, but it isn't as often as just general fiction.

    I have no clue what makes something "literary" or not. I either like the book or I don't, simple as that. Whether I like it or not depends on style, flow, characters, and plot line. I also tend to be a minimalist when it comes to descriptions. I get bored if I'm reading something that spends 2/3 of a page describing the weather, the sky, or a building, just for the sake of doing it. Often writers feel it adds to the piece, to the realism, to the imagery, but I just find it plain old boring. I usually skip paragraphs like that, or at least skim them. This is also why I don't like poetry.

    I don't wake up in the morning look out my window and think to myself a three minute long description of how it is outside. I think, "hmm, nice day today." and that's it. I don't go on about how crisp the air feels, how blue the sky is, how puffy the clouds are, or how many different birds are landed outside my window. But I've read passages where an author had their MC doing just that...and it's boring.

    However, some description is needed. Enough to paint a picture, but not so much that it gives every last little detail in a boring long winded sort of way.
     
  7. CharlieVer
    Offline

    CharlieVer New Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2009
    Messages:
    0
    Likes Received:
    27
    Location:
    Raritan, NJ
    At least with fiction, I'd say the most interesting works are the ones where, I open the book and start reading and in a very short time, two hands come out of the book, grab me by each shoulder, and pull me in and transport me to another universe, where I'm trapped until someone on this world yanks me back, or until I reach the end of the book, whichever comes first.

    (Usually it's the former and not the latter. Rarely do I read a book in one sitting.)

    If the work can make me forget who I am, where I am, and everything except what's going on in the story, at least for a little while, I'd say it's a phenomenal success.

    Charlie
     
  8. DragonGrim
    Offline

    DragonGrim Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2008
    Messages:
    818
    Likes Received:
    19
    Location:
    Iowa
    I think the book should've been written by an inventor, an artist, and a wordsmith. The inventor crafts the plotline and makes interesting characters. The artist challenges perceptions and makes the work nice to look at. And the wordsmith keeps the reader, who probably reads too much, interested with the verbs and nouns and such.
     
  9. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    imo, one thing and one thing alone--good writing!

    a good writer can make anything at all a pleasure to read... while a poor writer can make even the best of stories/content unpalatable...
     
  10. architectus
    Offline

    architectus Banned

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2008
    Messages:
    1,796
    Likes Received:
    14
    Location:
    Ca
    IMO, a page turner does many things, but the most important are: it causes you to want to know the answer to intriguing questions, it builds tension, it gives the MC(s) a goal right away no matter how small, a goal they actually care to obtain, and so we want them to obtain it.
     
  11. soujiroseta
    Offline

    soujiroseta Senior Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2008
    Messages:
    199
    Likes Received:
    26
    Location:
    Harare, Zimbabwe
    i couldn't have said it better myself.
     
  12. Fiel
    Offline

    Fiel Member

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2009
    Messages:
    18
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Land of Lightning.
    To me it's the character. One must be interesting enough for me to spends hours on my bed reading. There's this one novel, I really hate the hero, while really like the heroine. :D

    It's not much about gender, but the character themselves must have their personal quality good enough to hold my interest from running...:p

    And oh, good/acceptable writing style too.
     

Share This Page