I have analyzed this question over and over. Is it their dazzling plot? No, I don’t think so because I’ve read more than one best seller that, in my opinion, didn’t have that great of a plot. I wouldn’t necessarily say the plot was bad, not at all, just that it didn’t grab me by the throat and not let go.
Is it their skill with craft? Again, no. An author can have excellent skill, write perfect sentences and paragraphs and deliver a story that doesn’t move me one inch. It isn’t craft.
Is it sparking dialogue, lovely description, and plentiful use of the senses to draw me deeper into the story? No. Though getting these things right is important, they aren’t going to make me toss the book if the author still needs to work on these points.
Is it the story itself? Partially. I believe the story is the first part of what it takes to write a knock out book. There are two other critical pieces, in my opinion, to what sets some writers so far ahead of the pack.
The next piece is the characters. The characters that stick in my mind are all larger than life. I’ve never been moved, much less found a character so interesting that I remembered him or her more than a short time after I closed the book that wasn’t larger than life. Being larger than life doesn’t mean they have to be paranormal characters. Think of Captain Rhett Butler from Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind. Not to mention Scarlett. These characters are unforgettable.
The last part of the puzzle, in my opinion, is the author’s voice, his or her way of telling the story. There is nothing better, at least for me, than an author who has such a strong voice that I would know who they were if I was handed a book but not given the title or the author’s name. This is their sound, much like there are a few guitar players who I can identify simply by their sound. I don’t need to be told who they are. I can tell who they are by the way their guitar speaks, its voice, same with the way some authors tell a story.
I believe those are the things that make an author great. Or not.
What do you think? What elements do you believe takes a writer to that level of success?
~ Nickie Asher ~
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