Style. Elegance. Pzazz. Wit. Charm. The well-turned phrase. An ear for language. An eye for detail. Punch. Verbal charisma.
Great writers may have it (see above) —or not.
They may pen lyrical passages and then lapse into writing that is plodding, verbose, or second rate. But you probably won’t mind. You may not even notice.
I guess that’s why Melville can get away with several mind-numbing chapters about the history of whaling in Moby Dick. Or why Tolstoy can use enough character names to fill a phonebook. Or why Ayn Rand can insert a long political rant near the end of Atlas Shrugged.
Randy Ingermanson said that writers don’t sell books because they have no weaknesses. Books sell because of their strengths.
|C. S. Lewis|
I thought to myself, "Good grief, I can write better than this!"
|J. K. Rowling|
I should be so lucky as to "write better than this." Or even to come close.
A good writer will entertain you. A great writer will change you.
A good writer will probably impress you with her virtuoso performance.
A great writer isn't a show-off. He is a humble servant to the story he is telling.
Ernest Hemingway, Lewis Carroll, J. K. Rowling, John Steinbeck, Stieg Larsson, John Grisham, Kate di Camillo, Suzanne Collins, Stephanie Plum -- all are widely acknowledged as good writers. Which ones are not only good but great?
Or it might be more accurate to say that great stories choose us. They are speaking words of wisdom and enlightenment. They are calling us to come up higher. We just have to listen and respond.
"Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad books."
--The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society,
Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows