what is a good book? – chit chat 1

chit chats.jpg

Here I am, starting a new blog series, chit chats! I’m hoping to number them so as to keep track.

This particular post is all about how I personally rate books – what I think a good book should contain. And if you think about it, books are so objective! Someone will love a book, and someone else will hate it. It purely depends on the reader.

So then we have to wonder, are there actually any bad books?? How do we know if a book is actually good?

I personally believe that yes, there are bad books, and yes, there are many of them. It’s taken years of thought to come to this conclusion, but if we don’t have bad books, then we can’t have good books, and so all our rants on how good our favourite books are are then deemed pointless.

What I think makes a book bad.

  • poor writing. There is a bad use of description, either too much or too little. The dialogue is poorly handled; too much, too little, too descriptive, not natural, not enough context. Weak verbs are used, such as ‘grabbed’, when something more specific would suffice (though I am a fan of ‘said’). Too many adverbs. Sentences that are too short; sentences that are too long. When the writing does not have a good poetic flow.

 

  • when the characters are one dimensional. Characters that are stereotypes. Characters that are predictable. Characters with no personality. Characters that don’t change throughout the story. Characters that are simply words on a page, not springing to life at any point.
    • (note) sometimes it’s okay to have supporting characters that are one dimensional, depending on the book and the style. However, the main characters should always be 3D.

 

  • when the plot is all over the place (or nowhere to be found). While books do not necessarily have to be tightly plotted, it is important to have some sort of problem, that then has some sort of resolution.
    • (note) sometimes books don’t have much of a resolution, and often that is okay. But I think that as long as the problem is dealt with in some way, then it’s fine.

 

  • when the story endorses immorality. When main characters rape each other, and the plot doesn’t tell it’s bad in some subtle way (to use an extreme example). When people swear and slap each other and the plot tells them it’s fine.
    • (note 1) it’s a whole new topic when you start thinking about what IS scriptural morality and why are some Christians okay with things in books while others aren’t! That’s a topic for another time, though I think that the endorsement of basic immorality (lying, stealing, murdering, etc.) really degrades the book’s quality.
    • (note 2) I personally think that it is okay for the main character of a book to be a murderer (for example), as long as there is some sort of resolution that includes the consequences of murder. However, this should not be done in a predictable, ‘murdering is bad’ happy ending, where all is forgiven. Does that make sense? The ending of this particular story should be realistic, and poignant, and thoughtful.

 

Those are just some scattered thoughts, but I think that it’s certainly interesting to think about. This topic has been debated for centuries, but it’s something that I’m very interested in.

Do you have any thoughts on this topic? Chit chat with me down below!

Keep smiling,

Emmeline 🙂

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