If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.


Our reason for creating WWK originated as an outlet for our love of reading and writing mystery fiction. We hope you love it, too, and will enjoy our holiday gifts to our readers with original short stories to celebrate the season. Starting on 11/16 stories by Warren Bull, Margaret S. Hamilton, Paula Gail Benson, Linda Rodriguez, KM Rockwood, Gloria Alden, and E. B. Davis will appear every Thursday into the New Year.


Our November Author Interviews: 11/8--Ellen Byron, and 11/15--Sujata Massey. Please join us in welcoming these authors to WWK.


November Saturday Bloggers: 11/4 Margaret S. Hamilton and 11/11 Cheryl Hollon.


Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.


In addition, our prolific KM will have the following shorts published as well: "Making Tracks" in Passport to Murder, Bouchercon anthology, October 2017 and "Turkey Underfoot," just published, will appear in the anthology The Killer Wore Cranberry: a Fifth Course of Chaos.


James M. Jackson's 4th book in the Seamus McCree series, Doubtful Relations, is now available. His novella "Low Tide at Tybee" appears February 7 as part of Lowcountry Crimes: Four Novellas, which is available for order.

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

What Makes a Book Good?


We are enjoying the company of our grandchildren. Each summer they visit us for a week or so without their parents. Lola, who will be nine about the time school starts, and I were talking about books. She’s a reader, and I abet her by giving her lots of books for Christmas. She started our conversation on this topic by exclaiming, “This is such a good book. It’s only the second chapter and already something really bad has happened.”

Aha, I thought, a chance to learn what makes a book good from a nascent reader—Lola hasn’t yet had a teacher like Mrs. Zarroli who Ramona talked about on Friday to learn from, so hers is an unadulterated experience. I asked Lola a bunch of questions and here’s what she said.

What’s a good beginning? I like bad things to happen at the beginning, even if I don’t understand them. And a good book has to have a mystery.

What makes interesting characters? The people in the book have to take risks. They have to be sneaky and stuff like that. In this book they had to break into the principal’s office. They take on a lot of stuff that we do not. If something goes wrong then something really bad is going to happen to them.

There is a pair of sisters that are so unalike. One is grouchy and the other is very nice. One likes fairy tales and the other doesn’t. Sometimes one is nice and sometimes the other isn’t. But they have to do stuff together. A good character in my opinion is brave and smart; they can trust people; they can take a lot of risk. If they’re funny that’s good too.

And I don’t like it when (for example) Sabrina magically pulled out of her pants pocket a whistle called the wind and blew away the problem.

What makes a good book’s ending? Usually it ends well, but sometimes the best books don’t end well and that can be good too.

There you have it from an eight-year old. We don’t need to graduate from high school, be an English Lit major in college or earn an MFA degree. Kids know good stories when they hear or read one: You need a good early hook and there has to be a mystery. You need interesting characters; they can’t be all alike and there has to be conflict. The characters need to be larger than life and take risks—risks that we wouldn’t normally take.

The plot has to make sense. Deus ex machina is a big no-no, and the ending can be either a good thing or a bad thing as long as it’s satisfying.

What’s so hard about that?

~ Jim

6 comments:

Ramona said...

Young Lola could teach writing workshops. Her comments are terrific.

kd easley said...

That was great. She covered all the points. You may have a future writer on your hands.

James Montgomery Jackson said...

Lola is a writer, although she thinks of herself as more of an artist because she illustrates her stories and prefers to verbalize her stories rather than to write them. (Who can blame her when she's at an age where her verbal vocabulary far exceeds her spelling vocabulary.)

The only question is what she'll choose to do with her talents. It will be fun to watch them mature.

~Jim

Polly said...

Absolutely loved your granddaughter's comments, Jim. Makes me want to start some of my books over. What a smart young lady.

Annette said...

As a former school librarian, I really appreciate this post.

MichaelEdits.com said...

Lola has positively nailed it. I think I need her help on my WIP.