The basis of a good book

By Connie Rossini

Original photo by David M. Goehring, re-imagined by BK (via Flikr Creative Commons.
Original photo by David M. Goehring, re-imagined by BK (via Flickr Creative Commons.

I read a lot of books by self-published authors and author hopefuls. Some of the manuscripts come from other members of Indie Catholic Authors. I co-chair a Catholic nonfiction critique group through the Catholic Writers Guild (CWG). I also evaluate books submitted for the CWG Seal of Approval. And acquaintances and other Catholic authors frequently ask me to review their newly published works.

These works come to me at all stages of the process. Some are excellent. Some just need a little tweaking. Others need a lot of work.

Self-published books have long had a reputation for being second rate. We at Indie Catholic Authors would like to help dispel that notion by providing our readers with great stories and well-written nonfiction.

One problem I see among aspiring authors is moving too quickly from dreaming about being a writer to writing a book. Many writers attempt this too early. They are not ready for it.

Before you can write a good book, you should learn how to write a good blog post. Before you can write a good blog post, you should learn how to write a good paragraph. Before you can write a good paragraph, you should learn how to write a good sentence.

Good sentences are the foundation of good books. An interesting plot and strong characters won’t make up for poorly crafted sentences. And a good sentence takes more than just good grammar.

Here are a few links with tips to help you improve your sentences:

Writing Concise Sentences

The Four Commandments of Writing Good Sentences

Stanley Fish on Writing Good Sentences

Don’t be afraid to go slowly and hone your writing skills. For most of us, there is no rush. Jot down your ideas in a notebook, then set them aside until you can write great sentences. It takes patience and practice, but your readers will thank you later.

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2 thoughts on “The basis of a good book”

  1. My favorite book on writing better sentences is Prose Style: A Contemporary Guide (2nd ed.), by Robert Miles, Marc Bertonasco, and William Karns (http://amzn.to/1Fots4G). I used to teach a course called Writing Principles at the University of Dallas, using this book. I hope it helped my students as much as it helped me! It completely revolutionized my understanding of the power of a sentence, and the way a good grasp of the structure of a sentence can translate to the level of the paragraph, essay, and beyond.

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    1. Thanks for the tip, Lisa. I have gotten comments elsewhere on this post from a couple of writers saying they completely disagree with me. I want to make it clear that I don’t think writers should obsess over their sentences and never get to writing a book. By all means, practice writing sentences with a full-length manuscript, if you like. But I wrote many “practice” stories before I wrote anything intended for publication. Too many people think if they have an idea for a good plot, they are ready to write and publish a book, even though they don’t have command of their sentences.

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