A good "B" story

A friend told me she would not attempt to write a novel if it could not be of the highest quality.  It felt like she was criticizing me for trying. 
A reader on my favorite critique site said a chapter I’d posted showed no particular literary quality.  His critique was kindly put, so I didn’t take offense.  I can’t remember his exact words, but he did say it was “standard prose.”  I think he said I paragraphed well.  The token praise pleased me anyway.  After all, good paragraphing is necessary.
Suspecting he’s a reader with good taste, I understood what he meant.  I love substantial writing, images that stimulate recognition and recall, well-expressed ideas that complete my half-formulated thoughts, and characters and stories that broaden my awareness.  And of course, words used in eye-opening ways.  I call those stories A+.  They win prizes, are translated in many languages, and appeal to all kinds of readers.  There are never enough of them.
I don’t expect my writing to reach a high literary quality, though I continue to work hard.  But while I admire many novels with great language (simple A’s, maybe), sometimes their stories don’t hold my attention.  I do often enjoy good B stories (in ‘standard prose’), and would be proud to add one to their number.
Write on!

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12 Comments

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12 responses to “A good "B" story

  1. Personally i feel a good story is the most important thing. Wonderful prose and great knowledge of the subject is all well and good, but if you don't have anything to tell it can be a bit sterile.moodMoody Writing

  2. This post really speaks to me. While I am striving for a more mature voice in my writing, my ultimate goal is for readers to see the story and not the words. Too many times I see writers trying to add "fluff" and complexity when a simpler approach would work better for storytelling purposes. Just keep on keeping on–if you've got SP&G down, then strive to be a good storyteller. Your own unique voice/style will follow with lots of practice.

  3. Personally, I'd have no problem if someone said my writing had no literary quality (as long as the intent wasn't disparaging, of course) because literary is not what I'm trying for. I'd much rather hear people say "Wow, that was an exciting story. Great characters, and I loved the cool tech in the background." That would tickle me.

  4. Mood, Mysti and Botanist: I like your thoughts!

  5. One person will never be your entire audience. Unless, of course, you don't plan to show it to anyone else, which would probably be a huge mistake.A+ novels are not made overnight (if at all), and you could have amazing technique and zero crimes against grammar, and still end up with a piece no one wants to read. I'd much prefer characters I can connect with and a solid story. The rest can be fixed 🙂

  6. Does you friend approach everything in his/her life that way? What a silly thing to say.Lucy

  7. Elizabeth – I also get most from characters and a story that I can connect with. Lucy – I'm intrigued by your question. It never occurred to me…

  8. Reblogged this on Carol Ervin's Author Site and commented:

    Here’s a blog I posted long before publication of my first novel. It’s nice to discover my opinions haven’t changed!

  9. Do what you love doing (and you do it very well, Carol). Write on!

  10. Becky

    I can not believe someone I grew up with has written several books! I am in awe of you Carol !Keep writing and ignore the negative! You have certainly made your mark! Congratulations!

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