blogger: Cynthia Ruchti
What are the Top Ten things that make a great book?
- Great cover
- Great title
- Intriguing beginning
- Fascinating characters
- A believable but interesting plot
- Surprising heroes
- Well-timed plot twists
- Meaningful takeaway value for the reader
- Written in a style that invites the reader into the story
- Satisfying ending
Avid readers may argue that the above list should have included their favorite point. But note that the list works well for both fiction and nonfiction. Even if it’s a biography, the character needs to be fascinating. Even if a memoir, a plotline (events happening that are connected by a common theme) drives the book.
Is it as easy to create a list of the Top Ten things good books are MISSING?
- Cumbersome, rambling beginnings
- Heavy doses of backstory dumped randomly on the page
- Impossible to follow location or era jumps/leaps/slips
- Unattached subplots (not directly connected to the main plot)
- Empty promises (a cozy mystery billed as suspense; a romantic suspense with such a weak romantic thread that the romance element can be lifted out of the story without damaging it; a Top Ten book with only nine points; dangling plot threads not resolved by the end of the book or series; tone of the title not reflected in the tone of the book; a book directed at Early Readers with concepts, theology, or language the reader can’t grasp)
- Hype unmatched by the content of the book
- Excess ink (A good book leaves breathing room, white space, margin–not just margins.)
- Rushed endings (Oops! The author filled the allotted pages before the story was over!)
- Lengthy descriptions of settings, eras, or character traits that sounded good in the writer’s mind but slow the reader’s experience
- A point, a reason for existing
We’re heading into a new year of wrangling words into meaningful patterns. Let’s make each word worth the paper or pixels! Early in the new year, pick a new-to-you book on the craft of writing, the art of persuasion, or decluttering your writing space. Approach your work with the goal of removing the things that are missing in the best books.