Last week my mother-in-law and I were discussing books. We were talking about an author and I said something like: "His stories are great, but I his writing drives me crazy."
She was surprised by this reaction and asked me what makes writing good or bad.
I had to stop and think about it for a minute.
My immediate answer was that writing is subjective, what one person loves another may hate and visa versa, but then I came up with a real answer.
If writing is superior words are never wasted. Every word is meaningful, every sentence is beautiful, every thought is perfectly expressed. An example of this (for me) is THE BOOK THEIF, by Markus Zusak.
When writing is good words are rarely wasted. If there is a page of material, 95% of it is pertinent to the story. The words may not be as perfect as those in a superior book, but they get the story across and don't waste my time.
I get annoyed when books are wordy. Bad writing (for me) is when a writer takes a page to express a thought that could easily fit in a paragraph (or a sentence), or uses adverbs with reckless abandon, or spends forever explaining a room when I REALLY want to know if Don and Harriet are going to get back together.
The interesting thing is, I like more than a few books that are written badly. I also hate a few that are written beautifully. Story trumps all. If the story is good enough, I'll suffer through a thousand page book that should have been two hundred pages, AND I'll tell my friends and family I loved it.
I have not mastered the art of good writing. Sometimes I'm sloppy. Sometimes I use more adverbs than I should. Sometimes I start sentences with and, but, or so. I'm working on it. I want my writing to be good so it doesn't distract from my stories.
Do you agree with my assessment? Do you think I'm a raving lunatic? What makes writing good (or bad) in your eyes?