What makes a good book?

As I have spent more and more time writing, I began to wonder just what it was that made a good book. One of my very favourite books is A Rebel in Time by Harry Harrison. It deals with a black man going back in time in search of a criminal to the time of the Civil War. It’s well written, and a great adventure. I was lucky enough to be given a copy of this in hardback, and even better, it is a signed copy. For me I got into the works of Harry Harrison from reading 2000.A.D comics, when they began to offer a strip of The Stainless Steel Rat. Later on I looked for Harrison’s books, and found Bill The Galactic Hero, which I thought was so silly and funny I read it three times. I read all of the books in the series, and it was obviously at this time I began to realize there were certain writers I would follow, because they wrote things I enjoyed and liked.

I wondered what it was that I enjoyed most about not only his books, but those of others I read. For me to put it simply, there are two main aspects that matter. the first is it has to be a truly great story. It doesn’t have to be unique or particularly different or new, because look at Harry Potter, which is basically The Sorcerer’s Apprentice , although obviously much more to it. Which brings us to the second important element, which is being able to tell a story.

Telling a story isn’t simple, because it needs to take the reader along, and offer elements which excite, interest, educate or enlighten, or all of those things and more. The plot has to do something, the characters have to have some worth. You can create a plot, and work on it, and create graphs and charts and lists of characters and events, but then you have to string it all together, in a way which the reader falls in love with, and becomes a part of.

When a book of fiction does this, it really drives our imagination, and leads us to places we might never have imagined ourselves going.

So for me a book needs to have an interesting story, and the writer needs to tell that story well. Then I can get into it, love it, and want to read it again.

I think doing that well enough that the reader will love it, and you as a writer is the hardest part, because we’re all different, and there’s no telling what might excite on reader, but annoy another.

I guess that’s all part of the fun of being a writer though.

Now, you’ll have to excuse me, I have a book to read…

Email: djcowdall@gmx.co.uk
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The differences between US and UK spelling and grammar, plus new book

For my new book I decided to employ a professional editor to fully copy edit my book. Some things stood out for me:

Firstly, as much as I edit my books, and am very careful about it, I’m only human, and of course there were things I overlooked, one or two mistakes. They happen, but with my new editor’s aid I believe we have ironed out all spelling errors, continuity errors and such. This should make the reading experience much better.

Secondly, I must admit to being shocked at the amount of words spelt very differently in the US compared to the UK. I made the mistake of thinking it was only a few words, and not so important. How wrong was I?!
Other things such as standing and stood, being said differently, and plurals and singular, the differences are so many. Clearly editing for a different market are important. lesson learned.

One thing about doing things so much more professionally is it adds to the time before publication. Thankfully I am at the end of it all now, and my new book should be launched within the next week or so.

The genre is quite a departure for me, dealing with family and emotional issues, which are complex and subtle. Writing something like this can be emotional for the writer too, but I feel if I am experiencing an emotional connection with the events in the novel, and how they effect the characters, then hopefully that will feed through to the readers. Time will tell.

Of course, the work never stops, and my next project is going to be the final part of The Dog Under The Bed. It will be simply subtitled: What Happened Next, and concludes it all.

I have been very pleasantly shocked and surprised at the reaction to the first book, at the time of writing this it has 148 reviews on amazon, and a huge amount of ratings on Goodreads too. Clearly it is a much loved book, and worthy of a good conclusion.
I can say the final chapter will be very loving, full of fun and humour, and a wonderful way to send Arthur off to his new home, with his new family.

Roll on next week, when I begin writing it, I can’t wait!

Email: djcowdall@gmx.co.uk
https://twitter.com/djcowdall
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https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15502553.D_J_Cowdall