I don’t know about you, but I am a visual learner. Show me once, I got it. For me traditional learning, reading and comprehending, are a challenge. So I decided to read a popular Indie book to see what it had that mine did not. Trust me, this was not my usual reading material. In fact, first speed-read through, I found I could still blush — frequently.
In that first read I also noted some of the mistakes I had been so solemnly warned about in all my writing classes. Adjectives galore, long drawn out ending, telling instead of showing and big words that I had to look up. So what made this a best seller, outside of the obvious titillating factor of sex?
There was just something that caught my interest, and held it because I had to go on to the sequels to find out just how it was going to end, blushing the entire time of course. I spent a few days working it over in my mind. Finally I saw it. Plot of course. It had those elements we all strive for. It had two people with a huge problem to work through that seemed insurmountable. You wanted them to be together, but could they overcome the huge chasm of differences between them.
It was a plot woven artfully. Forget the vehicle of big words, adjectives or long drawn out ending. It was a good story. Plain and simple. An unusual problem with a dark character who had hidden goodness. A flawed heroine with an innocent heart who worked to pull her hero from the dark. That is what attracted me and prompted a second read through.
I’ve always liked character driven plots. This was character plus. Just as there have been other popular books that have been criticized for poor writing but have been so popular they became movies. I have found the same formula again and again. No matter how “poorly” written by my instructors standards, they had the most important element, PLOT.
I’m not advocating pushing aside good grammar and sentence structure, or all the other trappings of a finely written piece. I still fiercely believe in editing to the max. But in my journey to understand what makes a good book, this was an eye opener. A given. Without plot, no matter how finely written, you have nothing. A fancy cart without the horse isn’t going anywhere.