Should Writing Style be a Deterrent against Reading a Story?

One thing that always seems interesting to me is that an author’s writing style and their stories are not necessarily linked. I have heard many people say they cannot get through Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings because his writing style and descriptions are so verbose that they get bogged down while reading the books. Because of that, even after several attempts, they cannot read the novels. However, as I mentioned in an earlier post, Tolkien is one of my favorite authors, and I read the books fairly early on, and I admit, it may be that it has been so long since I read them the first time that I cannot remember my first reaction to the books, but I do know that Tolkien’s writing style was not enough to deter my finishing the book.

Another author, whom I also mentioned in the same earlier post, Terry Goodkind has a writing style that has grown a bit repetitive, perhaps in the last few novels. As such, there are little things that bother me every time I see them, but Goodkind’s stories and characters certainly make up for any elements of the writing that I find less than ideal. I have always been the kind of person who, if the story is good, I will read on to see how the story ends. Goodkind certainly has the stories and characters to make me count his Sword of Truth series as quite possibly my favorite series.

It always seems for me that the big motivation for whether or not I read a book is the tale. If I want to know what happens to the characters, then I will do what it takes to find out, and if that involves reading stories that may be dense or repetitive at times, then I will take the story for what it is. Certainly there are certain writing styles I prefer over others, but that does not mean the stories they accompany are something I am interested. This seems to hold true whether we are talking about books released this year or two hundred years ago.

What do you think? Is the writing style enough to attract or deter you from a book? Or is the story what draws you in?



4 thoughts on “Should Writing Style be a Deterrent against Reading a Story?

  1. I would say that the writing style isn’t a deterrent for me, with the exception of one book. I can’t remember what it was, but it was a little mystery paperback, and I couldn’t get past the first chapter because one of the characters had apparently never heard of pronouns. Another character’s name was repeated so many times in one paragraph, I couldn’t get past it.
    ~The Burgular


    • Very well said, Burglar. Weird grammar things like that, or just poor grammar is one thing I generally can’t get through. Though I don’t necessarily count grammar in a writing style, grammar is something separate for me. There are books whose writing style I dislike, but they have good grammar. Then there are books where I like the writing style even though the grammar may not be spot on. I guess it largely depends on what story is being told.


  2. I have never thought about it before, but now that you brought the subject up, I think for me the story is the most important too. Of course, the ideal is that I like the style and the story (that’s going to be a favourite author), but if a story is good and I love the characters, I will go with the style even if I don’t really like it.
    On the other end, if the style is very nice, but I don’t care about the characters, I won’t read.

    Though, I also have to say, often the style affects the way I feel about the characters, so I’m not sure the two things can be separeted. Not completely, at least. The way an author let me know about the characters’ feelings and thoughts, the way he manages to get me involved with them, their predicments, their goals, their failures and their success, depends in part on how that’s rendered by the author’s style. In my opinion.


    • You make a good point. While the style isn’t necessarily a deterrent against reading for me if the characters and story are good, the story and style cannot be completely separated. I recently read a book for which I had waited for ten years, and that definitely fit the requirement of having good characters with good stories, and a writing style that I thoroughly enjoyed. It was definitely worth the wait, which is always good.


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