Which Is More Important, The Story or How It Is Told?

Open book

In contemplating the craft of writing, I have been drawn to what may be a very old question: Which is more important to the reader, the significance of the story or the way that it is told? If you had to rate the two components on a percentage scale, would story get 50% and telling get 50% or would one greatly outweigh the other? Of course, the type of book affects the answer. Non-fiction is typically more subject-matter driven. If I want to read a biography of Winston Churchill, I am not inclined to be as concerned with the quality of the writing as with the accuracy of the content. Still, familiarity with the author will influence my decision.

In general, I believe the quality of the telling can overcome a mediocre storyline. Do we tend to read books based on our experience with the author’s style or with the subject matter. In fiction, I think the author drives the interest–at least if the author is known. When I want to read a mystery or thriller, I don’t necessarily search for a book with a particular murder plot or terror threat. If I like the writing of a specific author, I am likely to go for that name on the cover before I even notice the book title. Publishers realize this. It is not uncommon for the name of a well-known author to take up more space on the book cover than the title does. Even so, I have been disappointed in that method at times. We have all probably really enjoyed a book by an author only to be underwhelmed by a subsequent offering from the same author because the story failed to hold up. Read the rest of this entry »

Guest Post for Indie Author News – Pace Craft – Understanding the Tension bewteen Action and Exposition

INDIE AUTHOR NEWS is a good resource for Indie Writers. Here is a recent guest post they published: Pace Craft – Understanding the Tension between Action and Exposition

All Whiskey Is Not Bourbon – All Writers Are Not Authors

I was contemplating the subject of author-versus-writer recently when I was drawn to a Tweet from Joel Friedlander called The New World of Publishing: Writer vs. Author taken from the blog of  Dean Wesley Smith. While not exactly along the lines of my thoughts on the subject, it is well worth the read. His primary, and accurate, distinction is that authorship is focused on a past accomplishment while writing is an on-going, forward-looking process. The application to the world of independent writers/authors is that the author mindset is focused on the success of the last book. The writer mentality is to get the old book out there and move on. To paraphrase Mr. Smith from the writer’s perspective: The best promotion for the old book is the next one.

I think all writers (especially independent writers) must consider how they invest their efforts. Read the rest of this entry »

Origins of The Falcon Dirk — Part Three

English: Picture is of St. Kevin's Church and/...

The Long Room
The Long Room (Photo credit: National Library of Ireland on The Commons)

I have a great admiration bordering on a passion for old, rare books–emphasis on old. Rarity is impressive, but age, survival through decades or centuries by even a common book is equally impressive to me. The value of a book is the product of edition, condition, and scarcity. Those criteria apply whether talking about a copy of John Milton’s Paradise Lost or a copy of Marvel Comic‘s Amazing Spider-man. It isn’t the value that attracts me, however; it’s being able to hold an old book in my relatively young hands and have a sense of the time that has passed since it was first made, first held. There is something about the smell of aged paper and ink, the delicate state of the pages, and the voice of the printing carried across the decades or centuries. Read the rest of this entry »