Is This Book Good?

I’m certainly not the best judge in the world of whether a book is good or not, but I know what my criteria is for if something is worth reading. I judge all books against this list, and I try to make sure that my writing fits all of these standards as well.

1. Is it interesting?

Obviously I’m not going to waste time on a book that bores me. If I’m taking my free time to read something, it better keep me interested.

2. Is it a cliché?

I can’t stand clichés, especially romantic ones. It’s the reason I don’t watch chick flicks. If I think a book is going to be about an ordinary girl who falls for a handsome, extraordinary man, I will put it down (or throw it out the window). It is possible to take an overused idea and make it your own, but that has to be made obvious very early on in the book.

3. Do I care about the characters?

This one is also pretty obvious. I don’t want to read about characters that I don’t care about. To take it a step further, I stop caring about characters if they aren’t well-rounded. I like characters who surprise me and who challenge my interpretation of who they are.

4. Is it descriptive?

I’m a sucker for long paragraphs of descriptive prose. It’s one of the reasons I love The Lord of the Rings so much. Maybe that’s not your cup of tea, but I like the type of description that yanks you out of reality and places you right in the middle of the events in the book.

5. Does it inspire me to write?

This is the last and most important item on my checklist. My favorite books are the ones that make me want to write something just as good. When I really love a book, I always find myself coming up with stories that have similar elements, whether that is ideas, writing style, or characters.

What makes you want to keep reading something?


Blog Response: Novel Writing Ideas

This is a response to a post from Writing Forward. The title is How to Develop Your Best Novel Writing Ideas, and I thought it offered some really great advice.

I liked the section, “Get in Touch with Your Passions.” This was important to me because for the longest time, I tried to write a novel about “popular” topics. I wanted to write about dragons, but I was actually ashamed to be “too nerdy.” The post says, “All your past and present obsessions hold the clues to your future obsession with your own novel.” The moment I started writing about what I loved, the words seemed to flow out of me.

A lot of the post focused on flexibility, which I thought was really important. My initial idea for my novel was pretty different from what I actually ended up writing. I’m sure that if I get a literary agent, what I’ve written right now might have to change before it gets published. I need to be patient and flexible with my ideas for this novel, and I also need to be flexible about ideas for future novels.

I also liked that the post talked about generating tons of ideas. I think the saying, “There is no such thing as a bad idea,” is really useful when trying to come up with new ideas. Freewriting tons of ideas down has definitely help me come up with short story topics in the past. I liked the writer’s suggestion about keeping flashcards of ideas. I’m going to start doing that.

How do you generate writing ideas?