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Plot or Writing?

Recently I've read quite a few books that had a fantastic plot with tons of exciting twists but lackluster writing, as well as books with gorgeous prose but a plot that never went anywhere or did anything. Ideally, a book would contain both a great plot and beautiful writing, but in cases where it's one or the other, I've been wondering which is better.

Of course, which is better is completely subjective depending on who you're talking to. To me, good writing is much more important a good plot. I can read a book and still be entertained even if the plot isn't the greatest.

For example, The Night Circus had a rather meandering plot but the writing was just so incredible that I thoroughly enjoyed the book nonetheless. Similarly, Deadly Cool had a bit of an unoriginal plot that I would normally dislike, but the voice was so well-written, authentic, and funny that I had a great time reading it.

However, a book can have the most intriguing plot in the world but I will only have a cursory interest in it if the writing lacks polish or skill. What do you think? Which is more important: plot or writing?


Anonymous said...

I don't know if I could pick one over the other. Good writing without a solid plot is just words on a page, not a story. I read for story.

On the other hand, sloppy writing will distract me from even the most amazing plot, so I grow frustrated and have difficulty caring about the plot.

I think an effective story requires both; otherwise it's just writing...anybody can write. Few can craft a story.

We Heart YA said...

Truly? We can't pick one over the other. If either one is particularly bad, we're not going to stick it out, no matter how strong the other.

BUT. If you're talking good storytelling and mediocre writing, or mediocre storytelling and beautiful writing? Wow, still a tough choice. The 4 of us would probably be split. Kristan and Stephanie are a bit more forgiving about just-okay prose when they're gripped by a story, whereas Ingrid and Sarah are really keyed in to lyricism so they might be able to forgive a weaker plot.

Hm, in the end it all comes down to taste, doesn't it? :)

Alexis @ Reflections of a Bookaholic said...

Surprisingly enough, I'm going to go with plot. Great writing can be really boring (i.e. some of the classics). I don't think you can have great plot and bad writing because you won't be able to get through the plot because of the writing.

Great question.

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