author C.C.Cole's blog

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

On Good Writing

"The King's Speech"

"The Tourist"

As an unapologetic movie nut, I attach myself to films like I do with books.  Stories reel me in and when written well, I take it in hook, line, sinker, inhaling, exhaling, with a full analysis of every detail, every line of dialogue, almost down to last wardrobe description.  I feel what the characters feel; happy when they’re happy, angry when they’re angry, and devastated when bad things happen to good people.

Now let’s return to my second sentence:  when written well.   I find this to be an interesting assessment because of the variability of interpretation.  In other words, good writing to some is garbage to others.  I don’t consider myself particularly scrutinizing when it comes to story design; if it flows and makes general sense, that’s fine.  But like writers, no readers are created the same.  I’ve read bestsellers that are mediocre to me, and new self-published authors with incredible work, and vice-versa. 

So how do we define “good writing?”  I’m not sure we can.  Especially in fiction, part of “good” is “entertainment.”  Let’s try it backwards:  “bad writing.”  So would that be my bad habit of semicolon overuse, or a boring story?  There’s no clear line one can draw to make these distinctions most of the time.  I’ve seen on countless blogs and social sites about concerns about various self-published author’s whose work isn’t “any good.”  “Any good” to who?  Excuse me, where’s the writing jury?  The obvious answer is the audience of readers who comprise a mixed collection of tastes.

In films, good writing stands out like a blowtorch at midnight.  Talented actors carry the storytelling, but without a well-written story to tell, not even the best and most beautiful can rescue a movie from scathing critics and stay-at-home audiences.  I believe I see the distinction more clearly in films because in writing I “see” what’s in my mind and use words to translate them onto the printed page.  When I read a story, it’s vice-versa; I translate the printed words into images in my mind.  In films the images are created for us, therefore there’s no room for extrapolation; the burden is upon the industry to create something that’s truly outstanding. 

New authors, the reason we recognize good writing when we see it or read it is because there’s no disguise.  Now go forth and write something great.


  1. Couldn't agree more. Wow! Love movies as much or more than you do. :) Great post. Thanks you.