My Musings

What Makes A Good Book???


While procrastinating I started thinking over what makes a good book, here are my thoughts:

1. Story. 

No matter our preferred genre we all want a good story when reading. Let’s be honest we don’t want to read a book with a boring story where nothing happens, and the plot goes nowhere, as readers we like twists and turns, suspense and action, we like surprises and to be entertained. The story doesn’t have to be original or even contain new ideas, it can be a standard and stereotypical story that’s been done many times before, but it needs to be executed well. And let’s be honest, while there are some new ideas floating around, it’s hard to be completely original in today’s day and age, when most things to some degree have already been done before. 

2. Synopsis. 

Perhaps only a small thing but I believe it’s also of importance. The synopsis gives us a little snippet and overview of the story contained within the pages of a book. 

The synopsis itself is used to lure readers in, if you read the synopsis on the back of the book, are intrigued by the premise and interested in the hints of the story, then you’ll be more likely to buy the book. Whereas if you read the synopsis and immediately think snorefest you’ll quite probably ignore the book. 

A snorefest synopsis would be:

Drew went to work, it was boring, he worked tirelessly and diligently for the whole shift, then he went home.

On his way home he passed an elderly lady, looked like a customer from work, being a gentleman he offered to help her.

Somewhere a dog howled, he made it to his house, kicked back and chilled, just another exciting day in the life of a Tesco worker, rinse and repeat for tomorrow folks! 

A captivating synopsis would be:

Drew went to work, machine gunned sarcastic comments galore to make the shift go by quicker and to annoy the PC brigade, it was fun galore…..little did he know it would be his last shift and that by the end of the day, his life would be changed forever.

On his way home he passed an elderly crone, looked like a customer from work, standing there in the middle of the road, vacant, dead, malevolent red eyes staring, blood dribbling down her mouth, but what really caught his attention was the gaping, oozing, cavernous, pulsing hole in the side of her neck.

Somewhere in the distance a dog howled, the sound of the sorrow and loss echoing in the resulting silence. Then the crone spoke, her voice rasping like brittle leaves caught in the fading breeze ‘evil walks amongst us’ and that was when the world went to shit……

3. Writing. 

Most authors have there own style of writing, some flowery, some poetic and some quite straight to the point and blunt. Regardless of the genre we are reading, or even the style in which the author writes, saying that a book is well-written is very subjective, we all have different views on what a ‘well-written’ book includes, perfect grammar, spelling and punctuation (you sure as hell, will never find those things on this blog), the correct usage of words, entertaining storytelling, an ability by the author to write engaging characters, descriptive writing to enhance the setting and story, witty and meaningful dialogue and also to evoke emotion in the reader, etc. 

What we deem to be ‘well-written’ depends entirely on our personal taste. 

4. Pacing. 

The book needs to move along at a decent pace, you shouldn’t be left with the feeling that certain events happened to quickly, and were simply glazed over. Likewise the book shouldn’t drag either. 

It doesn’t matter if the actual pacing is slow or fast, not every book needs to be a 1000 mile per hour page turner with plenty of action and cataclysmic events happening on every page. Sometimes a slow and sedate pace works just as well, it is finding the balance within the pages and as such, the pacing and flow needs to be right for the story being told. 

5. World Building/Setting. 

Perhaps at its most prevalent in the fantasy genre but also of importance in other genres to. 

The setting of the story and the world need to feel alive, vividly imagined and vibrant in detail. You want to be able to immerse yourself in the created world. 

For fantasy you want the world to be rich in history and lore, myth and legend, full of races and fantastical creatures. 

For the thriller type of books you would want to feel the setting of the books, the dark and dank cells where the victim is kept, the eery foggy night, etc, descriptive to make the setting alive. 

Simply put, you need to be able to picture the world/setting where the story takes place. 

6. Characters. 

For me the characters are at the core of any book, they need to be three-dimensional, fully fleshed with individual personalities, and not two-dimensional cardboard cut outs. Love them, hate them, root for them, hope that they get what they deserve, the main characters need to illicit emotion in the reader, you need to care about them and their fate otherwise what’s the point in reading about them? 

7. The Hook. 

The hook itself could be anything, for a lot of people it’s likely to be different, for some it might be a massive event within the book, a character is grievously injured, will they live or die, an epic battle, a huge revelation concerning one of the main characters or perhaps the serial killer strikes again. But for others, it could be something small and trivial, with no actual consequences to the overall story or outcome of the characters, a simple conversation, the description of a landscape, a joke, curse or phrase that makes you laugh, something else that seems inane but grabs you. 

The hook is that moment in a book where it transcends from simply being a book that you are reading to something more, it’s when you realise that you care about the outcome of the story, and fate of those you are reading about, finding that you are actually ‘hooked‘ captivated and engrossed in what you are reading, you’ve gained that emotional attachment to the characters and the book. 

A mention also has to go to the cover. I know it’s a minor thing and that it has nothing to do with the actual material, the words and journey contained within the inside pages. But……lots of us are cover whores (credit goes to Stephy at Teacher of Y-A for teaching me that phrase) and covers are what make a book standout, either on your own bookshelf or in a book shop, it’s only natural that your eye will be drawn to a cover that you find aesthetically pleasing. 

So my fellow bookish people, do you agree?? Disagree?? What makes a good book for you?? 

wolf lets chat

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42 thoughts on “What Makes A Good Book???

  1. Love the post! I totally agree with your points always considering that everybody rates each one of them differentely. For example, for me the most relevant is the story. If it has twist and turns the better :). I hate when I’m feeling like nothing is happening.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Cool post Drew .

    Personally for me , the cover and synopsis while do have significant part in book selection, they have no part in making a book good for me

    For me the thing that matters and makes a book good are , Whether or not it catches my imagination and how much of a hook it has on me . The books that i cant or don’t want to stop reading even when it’s 5 am in the morning and generate tons of emotions are what i call good books

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Definitely true Rash, totally agree. especially about the emotion bit. 🙂

      True, had to pad the post out a bit though so included synopsis and covers as I know from blogging that lots of people judge a book by it’s cover and for people who pick up a book, quite often they read the synopsis on the back and if it doesn’t sound interesting to them then they won’t read it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well to each his own i guess .

        As i said even i pick books via a scientifically proven combination of GOODREADS rating , Book cover , and synopsis . But a book still needs to entertain me for me to dub it as a good book

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree with all of these points, but what I might consider a good book, might not be a good book to someone else. I know there are a lot of people who thought/think that Illuminae was/is a good book, but I didn’t think it was a good book at all.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I think this is an excellent article, Drew – great stuff:). I agree with most of what you say – except there is one aspect I think I’d like to add – and that’s tension. There are books that don’t require lots of pace and yet I couldn’t put them down once I picked them up if my life depended on it, because I can’t stop turning the pages. Other than that, I completely agree with what you have to say:).

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you.😀

      Definitely agree about the tension, and that’s true about the pace, that’s what I was trying to get at, not every book needs to be fast paced, slow paced can work just as well depending on the story, and add in tension, winner.😀

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Another great post Drew – I agree with all points. I also find the synopsis has to be the right length – if it’s too long I get bored and put the book straight back down! And I am an unashamed cover whore!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. Lots of people are cover wh#res lol, that’s why I mentioned it in the post, a cover is irrelevant to what’s inside the book, but when you’re looking at the outside, a cover is important.😀

      That’s very true about the synopsis, it also needs to tantalise you with the story and not spoil it.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Excellent post, those points are important if a book is to be any good. I also agree with @emmasbookishcorner that if a synopsis is too long it can be boring and so rejected.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Things I look for the most in the book are probably story / plot and “the hook”. If these two elements are missing, I don’t think any other elements, no matter how good they are, would save the book for me.

    P.S. Love the synopsis 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lol, thank you, you’re the first person to comment on the synopsis!😀

      Yeah, the ‘hook’ is the main thing for me, plot and characters are big to but it’s that moment/hook when you really start caring about the characters and the story that adds so much more to the book.😀

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I definitely agree with all of the elements you stated above are all important aspects in what makes a “good book.” I think what makes for a “good book,” for me at least, varies from genre to genre. In fantasy, I am more focused on the world-building and “fantastical” elements. In a thriller/suspense, I am more interested in the tension, plot twist, and pacing. In historical fiction, I am more focused on the plot and what I can learn from it. In contemporary, I want to feel strong emotions… Just to give a few examples. I think the best things about books is that what makes for a “good book” is so subjective. It varies from person to person. You and I could both read the exact same book, and maybe one of us hates it, while the other loves it.

    Side note- While I agree the cover is very important, as it is what first gets us to pick the book up and read the description in the first place, I try to not let a cover sway my decision to read a book. I’ve read some AMAZING books with awful covers, and HORRIBLE books with stunning covers.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s very true about different things being more important in different genres. And yeah, I’ve read some good books with poor covers too, lots of people go on the book cover though so I felt it needed mentioning.

      That’s very true about it all being subjective and being different for each person and different people liking different things, that’s why I tried to make the post just a general list of things that make a good book, and not just what I think does.😀

      Liked by 1 person

  9. You’ve made some good points here. And I agree with them all. It is true that first you have to have a good cover to catch the eye – unless a potential reader is following up a recommendation. Then the blurb on the back has to lure. But once they’re in it is the story that is all. Characters that are compelling, tension, action, STORY

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I agree with you on all your points. I do think the synopsis can be the make or break in a person’s decision to read a book. I have to confess that I sometimes pick up books in Waterstones and have put them back on the shelf before I’ve even finished the second sentence of the synopsis. Having an intriguing synopsis is so important because it’s what sparks that initial interest.

    I think a lot of writers (myself included) have problems with pacing. I read a book recently that was so incredibly slow moving and when it hit the 95% mark, it was like the author had suddenly thought “Shit, shit, shit! I need to wrap this up!” and every single major event happened in the final twenty pages as a result.

    Awesome post! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you.😀

      Yeah the synopsis is definitely important, that’s why I included it, it’s the bit on the back of the book that should entice you, if it doesn’t then it’s doubtful you’ll want to read the book.

      Ha, poor author, slow pacing works well, when done with the right story, just like fast pacing, but having a slow paced book and then having everything happen in the last few pages, nah, should have paced it out better.😞

      Liked by 1 person

  11. All important elements and necessary for a story 🙂 I find that character development next to world building are typically of most value for me. Although this can completely change based on the genre I am reading. If it is fantasy – I am really looking at the world building and characters vs a thriller were pacing is much more important to me and so on.

    Covers are a nice initial attraction, but I have learned the errors of that after too many failures wrapped in pretty packages. I definitely need a synopsis that gives me a reason to want to read though.

    But that is the true beauty of books! Each are such a personal and individualized experience that there will never be a truly perfect formula 😉 Fab post Drew!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is very true, and what someone likes about a book others might dislike, as you say it’s personal, and that’s why I tried to keep the post generalised, whether or not I succeeded I don’t

      Yeah, that’s true, I only very rarely dabble in thrillers but it’s a genre that for me needs to be fast paced, can’t stand boring and plodding in those books.

      Very true, especially in fantasy, you know me, world building and characters are the most important thing for me too, you need to love them, hate them, care, root for them otherwise what’s the point, same, you want to lose yourself in the world with the culture, history and lore.

      That’s also true, lots of great covers hide a lacklustre interior and the content inside sucks, likewise a crappy cover might contain an awesome read, for lots of people though they seem to want a book to have a great cover otherwise they ignore it, silly people don’t they realise that an ugly exterior might contain a wonderful interior.😂

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Agree with all points! 🙂 For me the blurb is always the decider when picking up a book… even if it might not be my genre, when the blurb/synopsis is good, I wants me some of that book! 🙂 I also love a good looking cover, but I have learned to to judge a book by its cover.. sometimes quality reading is hidden under the rags…

    Huh… I can’t believe nobody mentioned Drew’s synopsises(hahahaha… wtf is plural of synopsis?) google!!! hahahahaha, hilarious… ok, let me start over… i can’t believe nobody mentioned your synopses (ha!) I loved both of them and I want to read Drew’s book on being a Tesco worker and then the world going to shit.. that was good, Drew… 🙂 #horror

    Great post, Mister!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, you’re only the second person to mention the synopses! Quite surprised more people didn’t actually, I thought they were quite funny, oh well!😂

      Lol, working at Tesco is a horror itself, especially when the kids are on holiday, little loud mouth sods running around the shop, shudders!😂

      Definitely need a good blurb/synopsis, it’s what you read on the back of the book, if it’s boring, chances are that you won’t buy the book but if it’s interesting then chances are you’ll buy the book.

      Ha, if I could write a horror story would be cool, alas I can’t, though I do have an idea for what’d be a popular genre of book and it wouldn’t even need to be well written, might get me in trouble with some though!😂


  13. Great question! I think for me what distinguishes a good book from an OK book is the quality of the writing – it has to flow, feel authentic to the story being told and draw me in and the narrator, if there is one. Also the best books I’ve read transport me to another place, not necessary geographical, it could be inside the head of a character, another culture, another time an imagined world or whatever.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Great post! Sometimes we never stop and *think* about the hows and whys of our preferences, and I like to do that now and then.
    IMHO plot and pacing are tightly linked, and the characters are the elements that give balance to the first two. When those three are in sync, books get as near as perfect…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you.😀 I definitely agree plot and pacing and characters, one of the biggest, if not the biggest thing for me is the characters, need to connect with and care about or hare them, if you’re not bothered about the characters than you don’t care what happens to them.😀

      Liked by 1 person

  15. This is like the perfect list to a good book. I find a lot of the time if it’s not the characters that are dull, it’s the world building/setting. Ugh I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read a book and I have no idea where the action is taking place. (Clearly I need to read better books 😛 ). A little description as to where we are would be nice, especially in fantasy where the world is a place the author created. Drives me bonkers because I like description.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. This was a pretty complete list, if I may say so. I am sort of skeptical about synopsis though. The problem I have with them is similar to the problem I have with movie trailers in the past couple of years. “How much is enough?” doesn’t seem to go through the mind of whoever writes up these synopsis’/does trailers. There’s also the accuracy of these synopsis’! Imagine a boring synopsis, yet the book might have ended up being the person’s favourite book of all time!! I also hate how there’s new trend to mention, for every book, how it is “A blend of Game of Thrones and Guardians of the Galaxy” or “The next Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train”. Gosh… I believe I started to rely more on other peepz/reviews and a lot less on synopsis’ nowadays! Oh, I just had this flash about non-fiction book. Some people also see a good book as an insightful and useful one! I mean… Microsoft Word for Dummies could be a great book for a couple people out there you know! 😀 😀 Anyways, great post, Drew! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, and hell yes, to that whole comparing books thing, I totally get its to try and get interest in the book and sell it to fans of the series it’s being compared to, but damn, I’m so tired of reading ‘for fans of Game of Thrones’ on book covers, sigh, let the book sell itself without comparing. I recently loved a book called A Mighty Dawn, but it had ‘for fans of Game of Thrones’ emblazoned on the front, it was hardly anything like it.

      Definitely agree with you about spoilers, main reason I included them though was because if someone picks up a book in a shop and the spoiler doesn’t entice or interest them, chances are they won’t bother with the book, and a lot of the time they could be missing out on a great read, likewise, the synopsis could be great and then to put it bluntly the book ends up sucking.😂

      Liked by 1 person

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