Writing quality vs. readability

As anyone who reads this blog knows, lately I have been very hard on John O’Brien and his new world series. He seriously does everything every writing blog tells you not to do. However, his books are compelling. I read all ten in the series back to back, so clearly he’s doing something right.

Recently I tried to read something by another writer who clearly has read all fo the blogs, all of the advice on how to form characters, all that crap. The book follows the rules extremely well (Colony of the Lost by Derek Cavignano). Now, I’m not saying it’s bad, certainly some people might find it compelling. I suspect if you are a big Dean Koontz fan you will appreciate it. Anyway, I just can’t manage to get into it. It’s, well, boring. At least, it is to me.

So, would it be better if Mr. Cavignano ditched the rules? I don’t know, maybe that’s just not something he can do… maybe I just don’t appreciate his style, but the fact is the books that broke all the rules, that had random meandering stories about the main characters days as a pilot that didn’t relate to the main plot, that had vivid descriptions of exactly what the bullet did to the target repeatedly, despite the narrative voice making that make no sense, that shifted perspectives from first person to third person pretty much randomly, that was compelling and interesting. The book that follows the rules to the letter is boring. It just proves that the story, the characters, all of that is what matters most. The rest is window dressing, nice to have, but not the core of what counts for a reader.

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