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What Makes a good book GOOD?

C.S. Lewis, perhaps most famous for The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, was quoted as saying, “We don’t need more people writing Christian books’. We need more Christians writing good books.” As a Christian who writes, this is one of my favourite quotes. It reminds me of something poet DS Martin said at a conference I attended last year. “Writers don’t bring glory to God by writing mediocre books.”

However, we are left with the question, “What makes a good book GOOD?”

Some people might start with the genre, but I don’t know if genre is all that important. It has to do with the way a book makes you feel; how the pictures automatically form in your mind; how you connect with the characters; how the story draws you in… In short, if you find yourself wanting to read just one more page… Then it’s probably a keeper!

I have a couple of other markers:

  • If I find myself thinking about the book long after I’ve finished… it’s probably a GOOD BOOK.
  • If I want to go back ad re-read certain scenes… it’s probably a GOOD BOOK.
  • If I read it more than once…it’s probably a GOOD BOOK.

Some people don’t like reading a book twice or even watching a movie twice. I don’t understand that. For me, I get so much more out of it the second time around!

Naturally, as an author, I have to read my own work multiple times while writing and during the editing process, but even I am surprised by how I forget certain things, especially when some time has passed. This happened to me three times this year as I was editing and doing rewrites for three of my books. (My Mother the Man-Eater; Wind Over Marshdale; & Lone Wolf) Not only did I find things I wanted to change because I had grown as a writer, but I found lots of things I liked, too. I was glad to reintroduce myself to these stories and I liked the end result.

Of course, personal preference also comes into play, but some stories have stood the test of time, no matter how outdated they might be in terms of style. (Jane Austen, George Orwell, CS Lewis, Tolkien…)

In the end, it comes back to the quote at the beginning of this post. As a Christian author, I want to glorify God in my writing, but that doesn’t mean the content has to be Christian or that I should somehow have a veiled evangelical message or allegory in every piece. Good writing glorifies God simply because you are giving your best. Simple. I like that.

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