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02:32 pm: Wright’s Wrighting Corner: A New Series!

 

 

Well, Folks,

We have finished the Writing Tip series. Woohoo!

There will probably be more with time. I add to my Writing Tips as I learn more things, but until I compile a longer list, I must face the question of: what next?

In considering what to do now for this column, one thought I had was how nice it had been to have something to work with when I sat down to write, a previously drawn up list to address point by point.

So, I thought I would start a new series and address those points one at a time. This one will be called: Writing The Great Book…or something like that. It will be a series on great books from a writer's  point of view.

For next week, I hope to draw up a list of points that contribute to Great Books. What makes a book great? How do we go about making our books greater? (Better?)  Some of the issues will be writing points, some idea points.

Writing points will include things like the list of qualities I recently heard while listening to a lecture about Tolkien by the theologist Peter Kreeft.  Mr. Kreeft suggested that books have five aspects: plot, character, setting, theme, and style. To be great, he felt, a book had to be great in all five areas. So, I will discuss those five areas.

On the idea side will be the Great Ideas, including a brief introduction to how I learned about their place in writing. Perhaps, I'll discuss some of the Great Ideas in detail, too. 

Other than that? Well, the reason I am going to publish this list next week rather than now is to give you all a chance to contribute.   

What do you think makes a great book?

comments

Originally posted to Welcome to Arhyalon. (link)

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From:damcphail
Date:November 24th, 2010 08:21 pm (UTC)
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Passion...I think passion is one of the vital aspects of a good book above almost all others. Not just the passion the characters show about whatever they are facing, but the passion in the heart of the author for what they are writing.

Danielle
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From:arhyalon
Date:November 25th, 2010 04:42 am (UTC)
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Thanks. ;-)

From:(Anonymous)
Date:November 24th, 2010 09:46 pm (UTC)

what makes a great book?

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A great book to me is comforting. Not mushy comforting, but informational comforting. A reassurance of what you believe in, but with enough of a knowledge session that you feel as if you learned something new. No matter the genre, I want to feel good. Good and loved, good and scared, good and thrilled or just good and entertained. We expect a lot from a $8 movie, shouldn't we expect to be mentally wrung out by a $24 book.

A very though provoking question Jagi. By the way Prospero Lost was next to Laurell K Hamilton at my Barnes and Noble.
Mary G. www.olivialavyn.com
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From:arhyalon
Date:November 25th, 2010 04:44 am (UTC)

Re: what makes a great book?

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>By the way Prospero Lost was next to Laurell K Hamilton at my Barnes and Noble.
LOL. Thanks for letting me know. I'm delighted when I hear its out there. (Some years ago I would have been thrilled to be next to Ms. Hamilton, whose work I loved. Nowadays, sigh, not so much. I don't really like where she's gone...but I still enjoyed her early books a great deal and give her credit for that!)
From:xander25
Date:November 25th, 2010 12:29 am (UTC)
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Oddly, I think I've improved my writing (at least non-fiction anyways) by becoming a better reader. One of the best things I ever did for myself was grab, How to Read a Book by Mortimer Adler. I know it seems silly, "reading a book, on how to read a book?" However, there is more to it than most people think. He taught me to look at a book as a whole, and see what the individual parts are that make it up. He taught me how to outline the book. When I approached the problem of writing a college essay, I reversed the process. I asked myself, what is the main thing I want to say? Then I used smaller points in building up that main thing, and sometimes smaller things than even those. It seems to have worked amazingly well. Or at least I think so (my teachers seem to like my writing). Sorry, that was a bit off-topic.
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From:arhyalon
Date:November 25th, 2010 04:46 am (UTC)
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I read that before I went to SJC. I never thought of reversing it. How very clever.

I hope to included Mortimer Adler's list of Great Ideas in my list. I was thinking it might be fun to see if I could write a post about all 102 or so idea. I have no idea if I could...but it might be interesting to look at each one from the aspect of writing about it.
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From:juliet_winters
Date:November 25th, 2010 01:31 am (UTC)
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Well, if you want the critics to like it, there are all sorts of things you can inject to give it literary cred. Kinda like tarting up a perfectly good turkey with rosemary-truffle oil or some such.

I've been thinking about this some since I review/recommend books for our library's site. I keep picking up books that had the traditional earmarks of a great book, but when I get to reading them, they're poorly crafted or just plain nasty. So I move on and sometimes move backward in time to find some forgotten pearls. Most recent find: The Testimony of Two Men by Taylor Caldwell. After I wrote the review/book hook I got two surprising comments from people who absolutely loved it or really wanted to read it now. She was absolutely trashed by worldly critics for her work, which they judged as being an opiate to the masses. It still is. Even though the thing is 42 years old, it still has purely positive reviews on Amazon. It's a book that made a difference.

So, I'd say, probably too primly, that a great book should be well-written enough so that people enjoy the experience decades later, and it should not leave a residue on the reader's soul.
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From:arhyalon
Date:November 25th, 2010 04:48 am (UTC)
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>ell, if you want the critics to like it, there are all sorts of things you can inject to give it literary cred. Kinda like tarting up a perfectly good turkey with rosemary-truffle oil or some such.

LOL

>So, I'd say, probably too primly, that a great book should be well-written enough so that people enjoy the experience decades later, and it should not leave a residue on the reader's soul.

Oh, I agree! When I say Great Book, I'm thinking "something that could theoretically qualify for the St. John's Program." So, I'd put lasting power as a huge qualification.

I think next week I should probably start with "What is a Great Book?" and then move on to making up my list.
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From:eleika
Date:November 25th, 2010 04:56 am (UTC)
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If the story has the power to suck me in and make me forget the world around me, that is what makes a great book.

(Escapism for the win!)
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From:arhyalon
Date:November 26th, 2010 04:06 am (UTC)
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LOL. Definitely a good one.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:November 25th, 2010 04:57 pm (UTC)
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The best books for me are nuanced or layered. I'm not talking about subplots or complexities vital to the reader's understanding of the story. I'm talking subtleties that enrich the characters and the world but which the reader won't catch on first read -- insider knowledge, so to speak. The published word is static on the page, but if the reader's interpretation and understanding change or deepen, so, in effect, do the characters and the world in which they live. A joke, a setting, a ratty pair of boots can play double-duty, taking on different meaning as the reader learns more about the world's politics, religion, and characters.

Happy Thanksgiving. It just started snowing here. Pretty to look at, but I'm not looking forward to driving in it.

Deb Smythe
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From:arhyalon
Date:November 26th, 2010 04:06 am (UTC)
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Happy Thanksgiving to you, too!

Snow. Wow.
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From:bojojoti
Date:November 27th, 2010 02:36 am (UTC)
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If a story can make me sit on the edge of my seat in anticipation, make me say "aww!," touch me to tears, and cause me to laugh, it's good. If, in addition to all that, it stresses a major universal truth played out by nuanced and interesting characters, it's great.
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