Writers want to tell stories. We need to tell a story. Which is great because readers want to experience them. We have already established that in Something’s Gotta Give. Yet sometimes our writing is flat and it reads that way.
There is something missing from the page. Something the writer did not translate. It usually comes in the form of show vs. tell, undeveloped plots/characters or first drafts getting a light edit before being rushed to print.
It happens. Deadlines, burn out, or even trying to figure out what is missing on the page can flatten our writing. It doesn’t matter how well you write or what draft you are on. Good writers are not immune.
Cardboard writing varies in style and genre. However, they tend to crop up in more formula based genres where consumption dictates demand. Most of these stories are either over or under cooked, but edible. Readers aren’t picky when they are hungry.
Yet sometimes I’ve come across a bland book that if it only had some more time to stew or an extra pinch of creative/craft spices, it would shine. As in slay me as a reader and a writer, shine.
Those are the books that really get me, make me want to shake the author and say, “Don’t you see the potential you have here? You are sitting on gold.”
Too many times I’ve thought this and it saddens me. I know as writers we get too close to our own work, too tired of reading the same words, everything glosses over and we lose threads instead of tightening them. This is where a trusted beta reader, editor, or friend can step in.
Persistence doesn’t just apply to a writer pursing his/her dreams. It applies to story. In allowing the story to breathe, to be edited and rewritten, in knowing we could push deeper or further and make it better. Stories deserve our best efforts. So do readers.
Fluff is nice. Filling, at least for an hour or two. Yet cardboard books aren’t memorable. I don’t remember them or the author’s name. Sorry. And I’ll bet you don’t either. Time is short and the book list is long. Yet write a great story and keep me in it, I’ll not only forgive any bad writing in your novel, I’ll buy your next book too.
Now I know there are many successful fluff meets cardboard authors. Household names who make their living off of writing reliable feel good books. One is a gazillionaire and all because he makes the heart go pitter-patter. No, I’m not jealous. We like happy. It is like vanilla ice cream. Who doesn’t like vanilla ice cream once in awhile? Perhaps covered in chocolate sauce and colored sprinkles. Now off with you, go be a successful writer. Write the best damn book you can. Cardboard or otherwise.