Thursday, July 30, 2015

Is A Strong Storyline Enough?

I'm reading a book right now that has a really strong storyline.  It also has a strong female character in it that I really enjoy.

Buuuuut . . .

It has grammatical and spelling errors that are driving me crazy and the hero's voice jumps between tenses. (It's written in first person, but sometimes lapses into third.)

Yet I'm still drawn to this story because I want to see how the conflict ends.  Why would I do that to myself?

So, let's talk for a minute. What makes a strong storyline?

For me, it's these three things:

1.  Strong and relatable characters.

Having a strong hero and heroine that are placed into circumstances that makes a reader wonder what they would do in the same situation draws me in every time.  I love characters that I can care about and would want to be friends with.

2.  Great conflict

The conflict has to be something believable that I could see happening and, again, asking myself how I would react to it.  And I love the stories where problems seem to get bigger and bigger until the characters are twisted around trying to figure out how to get out of the trouble they are in when there doesn't seem to be a way out.  That keeps me turning pages.

3.  A world that the reader can feel a part of and experience with the hero or heroine.

When the world around them is realistic and somewhere I can envision it only adds to the story. Setting is the third leg on this three-legged stool and can never be overlooked.

So, this is what I've learned from reading this book:
  • Great characters and conflict can make it easier to overlook grammar and spelling and other mistakes, but generally it doesn't because it is so distracting.   
  • Most of all, what this book drove home for me is that an editor is worth their weight in gold.  Some authors have incredible storytelling talent, but an editor polishes that story and makes it shine. If I leave one thing with you here today, my writer friends, hire an editor. Make your story the best it can be so your readers can truly enjoy it.

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