What makes a good book?

Everyone has their favourites, whether Dickens or King, Rowling or Smith, they cover a wide and varied field of topics and themes. It doesn’t matter if what you like is fantasy, romance, science fiction or fact, the one ingredient that runs true in all loved books is their ability to get under our skin and into our hearts.


If a reader wants to keep turning the pages then that is the ultimate accolade for any author, aspiring or experienced.


I am not the first author to point this out, nor the first to raise discussion on the subject. So why have I picked this focus for my monthly blog? Because I am re-reading the Ian Fleming books on James Bond and they are such page turners it is obviously one of their main appeals.


But no matter how good a story or how much I love being immersed in another’s world, thoughts of my own yarns are never far from my musings and I ponder the question, What makes a good book and how do I ensure I include these fundamentals in my writing?


Reading is, of course, right up there. It is essential for any author to read. My own kindle is never far from my side. The pleasures and lessons of our favourite writers are invaluable to us. The journey of the characters and plots we have enjoyed ourselves show us how others have trod the same paths and achieved their goals. The cliff hanger, the enigma, the thought provoking situation. All of these are wonderful techniques, which when mixed with the current blend of the components that define the stories we are telling will empower the tale. But it’s not just about the cold hard science of the writing. There has to be something more.


Any Art is dead unless it contains the passion and emotive investment of the Artist. Strange to say, there is a quote from Bruce Lee which always inspires me about this. I can’t remember the movie in which it featured, probably ‘Enter the Dragon’, but I can picture the face and the still feel the force behind the words. “Emotional Content. It’s all about the Emotional Content”.


That’s when I feel any author gets it right. The balance of the emotive investment, the science of the techniques and the pleasure of the commitment to the story, all simmering together to produce a Page-Turner. A piece of work that will pull the reader into the world of the writer and take them on their own emotional journey.


Good luck with your writing.   Sean.

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