Friday, October 02, 2020

Writing: Choose Your Subject (Carefully)

 Finding the idea for book--indeed, the general outline--is usually not a problem. Although the non-author may feel stumped, most writers find that they accumulate ideas fast enough to end up with a list of books they'll never have enough time to write. The problem isn't the idea, or even the general outline. It's the book itself.

As you know, if you follow this blog, I tend to collect and reread the books that I've enjoyed over the years. Recently, I pulled a favorite from the shelf and soon found myself wondering why it was such a best-seller. The parts that were supposed to engender excitement and hold my interest did just that, but I had to wade through so much to get to them that I gave it up. 

This particular author had recently turned out books that I jokingly felt the best thing about them was their usefulness as a doorstop, due to their length. This one was special, but I couldn't recall why. The ones I found myself going back to read multiple times were those that held my attention from the first few pages. Not only that, I admired the way the authors strung together words in simple sentences that demanded my attention--no compound sentences or words that sent me to the dictionary, but simply a narrative that was easy to follow and made me turn the page.

If you're a writer, think about this as you craft your next book. And if you're a reader, think about the books you'd go back time and again to read. These--and not necessarily those on any best-seller list--are books that would make it onto my bookshelf, to be read over and over. It doesn't matter what they're about so much as the way they're crafted. See if you agree.


Priscilla Bettis said...

I agree. A best seller list doesn't mean an automatic purchase/read for me. I love Amazon's "look inside" feature. I'll read an excerpt online, and if the first few pages don't pique my interest, I don't buy the book.

Richard Mabry said...

I, too, like the "look inside" feature. It's much better, in my opinion, than reading the jacket, and far more helpful than endorsements.

Patricia Bradley said...

My husband was the first to tell me not to use three-syllable words when I could use one-syllable ones. That was forty years ago and I've tried to do that in my writing. Your books are some of the ones that keep me interested from page one, Richard.

Richard Mabry said...

Thanks, Patricia. Yes, we shouldn't use 5 dollar words when a 50 cent one will do (bringing that advice up to date), and you were wise to do just that. Unfortunately, I've found myself unable to write things that are "like me" the past few months, but I keep trying. Good to know that it has worked so far. Appreciate your comment.

Patricia Bradley said...

Just remember, Richard, if it were easy, everyone would be writing books. lol