And yet. Of all the books I read over the past year—and there were quite a few as I'm a bookaholic who believes finishing one book a week means I'm not reading enough—this book was one of the ones I enjoyed the least. The story was flat, the characters stiff and unrealistic, and the dialog off putting. There was nothing to keep me turning the pages and, after I finally managed to reach the last page and close the cover, there was nothing that made me want to linger in the book's world any longer.
Good fiction is more than technical perfection. Don't get me wrong, getting the basics right is important. I don't like books riddled with errors any more than the next reader. Too many of them, and I will lose patience and close the book without bothering to finish it. But there is so much more to crafting a good story than well constructed sentences. A good story makes the reader feel those sentences to the very bones of being. A good story makes the real world disappear as it immerses you in the one on the pages. A good story leaves your heart light, or takes your breath away, or makes you afraid to turn off the lights when you go to bed.
We read fiction to experience something, and without great characters, without good dialog, without description that lets us see and feel and be in the story, we are left with nothing but disappointment. The real challenge for a writer isn't in making the words perfect; it is in making them say something that transports the reader beyond the written page.
'Til Next Time
'Til Next Time