Thursday, November 4, 2010

Booking Through Thursday: Good or Bad Writing

This week's Booking Through Thursday question is:

I’ve seen many bloggers say that what draws them to certain books or authors is good writing, and what causes them to stop reading a certain book or author is bad writing. What constitutes good writing and bad writing to you?

For me, this question is difficult to answer because so many things factor into "good" and "bad" writing and some of them are easy to recognize but hard to describe.  I don't think I can name them all, but I'll offer up a few highlights. 

Good writing - believable characters and situations; even if the characters are vampires or elves or the situation involves life on alien planets, the author still has to make me believe what is happening could happen or should happen given the character's personality.

Bad writing - the writer hasn't done enough research, whether it's in psychology or genetics, to make the world feel real; if I, as a layperson, can find the flaw in a character with a fear of fire so severe that striking a match sends her into a panic suddenly overcoming her phobia to rescue a stray cat from a burning barn, there's a problem. 

Good writing - tight sentence structure, active verbs, detailed description

Bad writing - passive verbs, vague descriptions, run-on sentences spliced together with commas or semi-colons

Good writing - close narrative distance; putting me in the middle of the action or inside the character's head, creating sympathy for the characters

Bad writing - narration is too distant or passive, head-hopping, flat or boring characters

Items on this site may have been provided free of charge in exchange for an impartial review. Please refer to the Disclaimer for details.


  1. Great answer -- you brought up many good points that are common to most genres and readers.

  2. Good writing is not boring, and peaks your interest, throughout the book.

    Bad writing is when a book doesn't have substance & doesn't appeal to the reader in many ways.

  3. Good writing: proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation; using the correct homophones

    Bad writing: "said bookisms"; telling rather than showing; mix-ups with POV