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  1. afatelgrand

    afatelgrand New Member

    May 30, 2008
    Likes Received:
    Ned Antilles

    Adding Quality

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by afatelgrand, Feb 5, 2011.

    Hi everyone,

    As a reader, what do you think adds up quality to a story? What are the main factors?

    Some say, logical character choices, others say little details that makes the story more realistic. Some even say difficult wording.

    Are there anymore?

  2. Mallory

    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

    Jun 27, 2010
    Likes Received:
    Tampa Bay
    Strong characters.

    Realistic dialogue.

    A kickoff beginning that gets to the point right away.

    Good, proper emotion building.

    Fast-moving plots.
  3. erik martin

    erik martin Contributing Member

    May 20, 2010
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    San Diego, CA
    Twenty years after reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance I still have trouble responding when issues of quality arise.
  4. afatelgrand

    afatelgrand New Member

    May 30, 2008
    Likes Received:
    Ned Antilles
    True, I think, erik. I think writing is such an intangeble art form... I don't think it would hurt to try define quality. :)

  5. evelon

    evelon Active Member

    Aug 26, 2009
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    Easily identifiable characters, believeable settings, powerful writing that leaves an impact, changes the way you think, makes you laugh, makes you cry.

    I don't know what you mean by 'difficult wording.' Do mean uncommon words, or creative phrasing?

    But I think the main thing is that the writer believes in the story and his characters. That comes through in the writing.
  6. Heather Munn

    Heather Munn Member

    Jan 25, 2011
    Likes Received:
    Tiskilwa, Illinois
    The baseline for good writing, to me, is:

    - believable characters you can care about in some way

    - interesting things happening, and in a connected way (i.e. there's a plot of some kind), and in a way that is somewhat believable and not cliche or pure wish-fulfillment (a la "teen guy saves the world & gets the girl with no sacrifice or pain")

    - clear and readable writing which doesn't try to do anything fancy *unless* the writer is able to pull it off

    Various things that add quality...

    - a real depth to the characters--you not only care about them but their struggles give you some insight into human life & into yourself--you really feel that they are not just believable but somehow real

    - the plot is so close to reality (in spirit, not in literality--in the feeling that "yes, this is what life is like," even if magic or something is involved) that it can even help you learn something about real life, not in a didactic way but for real. (Example: Death of a Salesman helped me. Arthur Miller is right: ambition and pretentiousness can give you an empty life and then kill you. I'm glad I didn't have to try it to find out.)

    - beautiful language--something that is poetic, not in the sense of flowery but in the sense of concrete and vivid--it makes you see the image very vividly in your mind.

    - a really intricate plot--something where the way all the different strands come together both amazes and satisfies.

    - a really well-done theme: a question about human life that the writer has explored honestly and deeply

    - a really good sense of place & setting--a story that can make you feel like you are there, give you a sense of not only the sights but the sounds, smells, culture, history of the place

    - a good sense of irony, of the mixing of good and bad in life.
  7. Show

    Show Contributing Member Contributor

    Jul 25, 2008
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    There is no general rule for me. It pretty much just has to draw me in. Any rule I'd give probably has an exception. Just give me a good story with good characters. If it gets stuck in my head, you've done well.
  8. Elgaisma

    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

    Jun 12, 2010
    Likes Received:
    All my top ten have

    *Great character I can empathise with
    *An ability to describe the character quickly, introduce name, basic who they are quickly.
    *Are descriptive, they have a way of making description part of the story
    *Often warmth, humour and a range of emotions. A book that only makes me miserable or laugh is generally not going to be my favourite - ideal if to laugh, cry and feel a twinge of agony.
    *If unusual words are used they are used so well in context I don't need a dictionary to guess their meaning.
    *Colours, I love stories that bring in levels of colour instead of just being black and white.
    *Inventive plot whereby you are waiting to see what happens next instead of knowing it.
  9. Trilby

    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

    Jun 21, 2010
    Likes Received:
    NE England
    I love an unputdownible book.

    A book that from the beginning grabs me by the throat and won't let me go until the end.

    While I'm reading I am thinking 'I must put the dinner on,' but the book has other ideas. It is saying 'Just wait while I tell you this...'
    Me, 'I must catch the last post.'
    'Wait until I've told you what happens next...'
    'Oh heck! I can smell the dinner burning and I've missed the last post.'
    Thankfully unputdowible books are a rarity - otherwise my home would be a complete shambles.:D

    By that I mean:
    A hook on the first page.
    Well rounded - believable characters.
    Well thought out plot.
    No waffle or over flowery descriptions.
    If it is humorous - it needs to be both funny and believable. (not just comedy thrown-in in order to get a laugh)
    It has to have a satisfactory ending -it does not matter if it is happy or not.
  10. HeinleinFan

    HeinleinFan Banned

    Jan 6, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Any and all of these help.

    1. Strong, consistent, believeable characters
    2. A shiny setting
    3. Reasonable rules within the world, whether it's the legal system, the magic system, the science and technology set up, etc.
    4. Interesting goals, whether it's to save the world or to better understand oneself
    5. Competent characters. Oh, my, yes.

    Everything else -- clever lines, tons of surprises and twists, humor, utterly original ideas -- is gravy. I'll read a "poor" book if I like the characters and the setting and the goals; I'll abandon a "well-written" book whose characters are inconsistent or whose worlds/settings are unbelieveable. Or, worse, I'll read the whole thing to give me licence to complain, and then I'll warn everyone else away from your book.

    It is a sin to waste the reader's time. If your character and setting suck, own up to it and write the next book. You'll get better.

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