Booking Through Thursday is a weekly meme in which we answer a question about books or reading.
What’s more important: Good writing? Or a good story?
(Of course, a book should have BOTH, but…)
Yes, a book should have both, but…
It doesn’t help that the story is great if the prose is dismal, and it doesn’t help if the writing is great if the story is uninteresting. So, I guess the difference comes when the one thing is great and the other is passable.
Through the years I’ve figured out a few facts about myself. One of the is that I’m an action driven reader. If the story doesn’t grab my attention a book will never get top marks from me, however luminous the prose is. Sometimes I read a book, and I can gush about the language to anyone willing to listen (mostly Kristin), but if there’s something lacking in the story it still won’t be a favorite. On the other hand, a wonderful story with language good enough not to annoy me, might get top marks. That usually means that the prose is good, but not good enough to deserve special attention when I read.
The best reading experiences are when both the language and the writing is great. Thinking back to last year I can remember at least three books that had it all: Among Others by Jo Walton, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky and The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.
So, yes, both is better. But if I have to choose between two evils, passable language and great story.