Writing great novels, or making money?

I know many would say the two go hand in hand, but in real life that isn’t always the case. There are plenty out there who will write quickly, churning out novels at an amazing rate, perhaps a new book every month, and see this as a means to make money and thus a living from their writing. I imagine some are capable of writing something half decent this way, but I cannot help but wonder just how good such novels can be.

Compare something that was written hastily, inside one month, over a hundred thousand words, with an all-time classic, or even a highly regarded bestseller of today. I wonder how good a novel can be that is written in such haste. I accept a good story can be written quickly, but my skepticism comes from the doubts over how well it is written. I firmly believe the heart of a good or even a great book is the story, because no matter how well something is written if the story is rotten then the majority of people will not enjoy it. If so then why not simply read poetry, because with such prose the story is not quite so important, or even necessary. With a full-length novel then the story is at the heart of it because without it a very long reading can become arduous and difficult to maintain attention.

Quality of writing is an issue, but if the story is great most will see past something that is clumsily written and simply take the story for what it is. Not all are like that, but most are. However, having said that, imagine something with a truly wonderful story and it is built upon some truly wonderful prose, the writing imaginative and lively, expressive and passionate, but also without errors or mistakes to jar the reader. That is part of what makes a classic because even a sentence can bring you alive, make you feel something special, connect you with the story, and the way it is being driven. You’re not just being told a story, you’re having it described to you in the deepest possible manner. You feel the words, live the descriptions, and know the characters, you can see them in your mind and be there with them for every important moment. Surely that is the importance of a well written and well-told novel?

That brings me to my point, that great novels and the best books we read don’t come from being hastily written and shoved out, or shoveled out, but what we care about in literature and the books we remember come from those that aren’t just written but are crafted, created in their whole with a passion about every aspect of their making. Those who think and care about every single word and every single sentence to drive their story on, those are the ones who create classics and books that will forever stand the test of time.

I cannot imagine a hastily written book ever attaining such a place, or being revered for what the author has done.

It’s a lesson I pay heed to, trying as best I can to create something worthwhile, to consider all that I write, with every sentence. I am not perfect as a writer, always still learning, but what matters is I care about what I author, and how it affects the reader. For me, I cannot imagine the focus being on simply making money as if I am stacking boxes or writing reports for an employer, for me it has to be the quality of every word and how I move the characters, set the scenes and hopefully craft something worth the readers’ attention.
I still believe that is what sets the vast majority of authors apart, from being simply independents to professional authors through a publisher, how much we care about what we put out, no matter how long it takes to write.

I believe readers feel the same way, and because of you, I will always to try ensure everything I write is crafted, not simply written.

David.


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