Wednesday, December 7

A Reading Experiment...

Last week, while wandering aimlessly through the UBS, I'd forgotten to bring my "to look for" list, I was lulled by 3 beautiful covers, I know, covers aren't my thing, but these were beautiful and obviously books with medieval settings. I bought them without even reading the blurb.

Not necessarily a good move. I read the blurb of the first book and thought "I'm not so sure about this." But, I've decided to read them anyway. I started My Champion last night. I'm still not sure about the plot and story line, but I like Ms. Campbell's writing style and voice.
And, this got me thinking. What's more important a good writing style or a good plot and story line? Obviously when you get both in the same book, the book's a winner, but if both aren't there which is more important?
I'm starting to think, for me, good writing trumps a good plot.

Earlier this week AngieW blogged about getting an ARC of the new Marjorie J. Lui book, it's book two in the Tiger Eye series. I think I'm one of the few people in romance blogland that hated Tiger Eye. The plot and story line were great, but I couldn't get past her writing style and voice, at least for that book, I really enjoyed her A Taste of Crimson, it almost seemed like a different person wrote it. Tiger Eye had the worst line I've ever read in a contemporary/paranormal, "My codpiece is full of love." I'm never going to forget it or the book literally hitting the wall when I threw it across the room. Now, the other end of the spectrum. Cindy blogged about Liz Carlyle's Beauty Like The Night. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, never once did I see the flaws she did, and I've read this book 2 or 3 times. And, I was left wondering why, I new the answer immediately--a beautiful writing style and voice.

Back to Glynnis Campbell's My... series. I went in search of reviews, RT--good, now there is a shock--LOL. And AAR and Mrs. G--not good at all. But, all seemed to think the books had potential and a good writing style. So, were does that leave me? Doing a little experiment. Hey at least I'm reading again.

Have a great day and happy reading.



Angela James said...

I JUST had this conversation with someone on Monday. They asked me if I'd read a particular book (an ebook) and said how good they thought it was. The book in question was one that I've seen excerpts from and have had whole sections of the book copied to me- because it's that awful. Horrible writing and bad editing (wandering body parts, purple prose, POV shifts in mid sentence and two or three times per paragraph).

I nearly dropped to the floor when the person said how great it was. When I flat out said I thought it was one of the worst written, most poorly edited books I'd seen recently, she proclaimed "but it has a really good, unique storyline."

My reply was that a good storyline does NOT trump bad writing and bad editing. There are plenty of people out there who have wonderfully unique plots/ideas for books but can't get published. There's a reason for that.

I demand all three in the books I read. Good story, good writing, good editing. Must haves. Why settle for less?

Megan Frampton said...

Good for you for taking a flyer on those books! At least you don't have huge expectations, you can simply enjoy--or not--the books you got.

And for me, good writing is the winner every time. I felt that way before I realized I was plot-impaired in my own writing. You can fix a plot, you can't fix bad writing, at least not without making it bland, I think.

Sam said...

I grew up with an English teacher (my mother - she's also an editor in her spare time) and had good writing drummed into my head. You can learn to write well. But storytelling is a gift. And when the two are combined - it's wonderful! You get the keepers that line your shelves. But I am very picky, and good writers are Hard to find.

familyman said...

I just had to comment on this blog because you are way way right. style and voice are everything in a book especialy romance. I must throw in there that characters are important too. If your character is not beliveable then you have no story. I am an avid Nora Roberts reader but I like to read others too. Im just in love with Nora though. Again you hit the nail on the head, I definately read for voice and style. You cant form a good plot if you dont have a good style to get you there.

Tara Marie said...

Angie--I agree I prefer all three also, but as you know, it's not a given.

Megan--I knew you were going to agree with good writing first, because of your comment to Cindy about Liz Carlyle. And, I thought your plot and story line was great, so you're probably not as plot impaired as you think.

Sam--"...good writers are Hard to find." Isn't that the truth. It's the main reason I re-read keepers.

Familyman--Thanks for commenting, I agree good characters are also an important ingredient. I checked out your blog, and saw you are new to romance blogland, have fun and I'll be adding you to my sidebar. I love to hear from men who read romance, my dad is an avid romance reader.

CindyS said...

I will agree with you and say that Carlyle's writing is excellent. I just had such a problem with the characters.

I also have to chime in and say that voice must be what I read for. All the same, I couldn't define voice if you made me. But, let me try ;)

I read Mary Janice Davidson's vampire books and have a good time. It is definitely her voice I am reading for because there are many errors and plots that suddenly fall out of no where. Same was for LKH - I don't know if her voice has changed as much as she has butchered her characters.

Now, Loretta Chase's Lord of Scoundrels was her only book I liked until I read Mr. Wonderful which was perfect for me. Her other stories seem to leave me in the dust and it feels like someone completely different wrote them.

Hmmm, voice, or vibrancy of character? Rupert and Dane were so charming in their own unique ways so was it the character that I loved or the voice? Now I am really confused!

Great question.


Bernita said...

Writing can corrupt a reader's perception. One notices plotting flaws and such, and sometimes fail to hear the overriding charm a book may have for a reader.