Because I love to read, I thought it would be an interesting challenge to review books. Over the past two years, I’ve read everything from bestselling authors to self-published authors who’ve released their first books.
What’s especially jumped out at me lately is the amazing variety of stories. So many new, unknown writers have great yarns with intriguing and unusual premises, yet there’s a little something missing in the writing. Something that doesn’t put these people in the league of an Alice Munro, Raymond Carver, or Doris Lessing, for instance.
I can’t give a simple reason for this. To say that some writers just lack talent or experience seems too simplistic, although there might be a grain of true in that for some. But when you read a book that makes you think “wow, what an amazing writer, what exactly do you mean?
For me, great writing is a combination of things, but mainly I find it in the strength and distinctiveness of the writer’s voice. That tone, essence, and dazzling choice of words paragraph after paragraph, page after page, is what does it for me. Having said that, I’m not sure I have a handle on all the other factors, so I’d love to hear which authors you think are great and why.
A lot of people say you can teach people to write. I think this is true and I think you can even teach people to write well enough to sell their work and earn recognition. But can you teach someone to be a truly great writer? Will they be great if they practice enough? Learn enough? Read enough? Or is it a matter of some have it, and some don’t?