What makes a great novel? Are there certain key ingredients? Is plot more important than style? Is a strong character enough to drive narrative? What do writers learn throughout their careers?
As aspiring writers (and established ones), a common piece of advice we are given is to read as much as you can. I read for enjoyment, but as a writer, there is always a part of my brain which working out what makes the book work, and what has made it appeal to readers on a large scale.
This year, I hope to be more strategic with my reading. I will be choosing authors I already admire, as well as ones I have heard good things about, looking at all their works in order to establish their strengths and whether they change over the course of their body of work. I will explore authors from different genres, looking at the different priorities of commercial and literary fiction, and how they overlap. I hope this will be interesting reading for other readers out there who want to delve deeper into the mechanics of books, and what makes them successful works of art.
This new feature for the blog will be a documentation of that discovery, and a way of sharing it with you! I will cover aspects of the books reviewed which I admired as a writer, and those which I didn’t think worked as well. Hopefully this help highlight what is worth taking away from each novel. I hope it will improve my skills as a writer, and that you can take away something from it too.
I’ll start with Donna Tartt. Having recently finished (and loved) The Goldfinch, I’m aching to write about that. Then I’ll reread The Secret History and The Little Friend, and evaluate their strengths and differences, exploring her progression as an author.
I’d love to hear your feedback on the books: aspects you admired and that changed you as a writer or a reader. It would be wonderful if this could became a conversation: I miss chatting about books with like-minded people!
Want more? Here’s my Bestseller Breakdown posts so far: