Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Elements of Good Story, Part 2

Continuing on with the list...

Quality craftsmanship

It is appalling how many books there are that, despite the good intentions of the author lose their effectiveness because of a weak grasp of the fundamentals of good writing. I try to look past atrocious sentence structure and repetitive vocabulary, but I confess that there have been many times that I’ve been tempted to get out my red ink pen!

Sad to say, the worst examples that I have seen have come from modern Christian writers. I wonder how much this low standard of excellence has damaged our testimony in the eyes of the world.

Vital description

I’m not looking for superfluous page fillers, but rather for descriptions that are important stage setting material. Every word is vital to understanding what comes next.

Example: Kim by Rudyard Kipling

Choice words

My favorite books contain a large selection of words, set together in deliciously surprising ways. P.G. Wodehouse is a master of the unexpected metaphor and simile.

Squeaky Clean

Am I the only one who doesn’t like coming away from a book feeling the immediate need to rinse my brain out?


I love an author who can give me a glimpse of the beauty of life, even in the small things. I’ve found beauty in the oddest places, most unexpectedly in an essay on the contents of his pockets by G.K. Chesterton.
These odd moments of discovery are a major reason why I keep reading. I know I’ve found one when I feel like smiling till I burst!

Examples: Tremendous Trifles by G.K. Chesterton, Nearby by Elizabeth Yates, many passages in the works of L.M. Montgomery.

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