Here’s a guest post I wrote so long ago, I didn’t remember what I said till I read what I wrote.
The take-home message: in my opinion, you learn to write well by reading top-notch books. As a little boost in that direction, I included a short list of some great authors.
How old were you when you learned to tell the difference between great writing and mediocre writing? Or between mediocre writing and poor writing? I mean, I remember I liked The Sword of Shanarra just fine the first time I read it. I don’t remember how old I was at the time. Young. Later, in grad school, I found a friend of mine reading one of the dreadful Sword sequels. She thought it was fine. No offense intended to Terry Brooks, but that was when I realized that some people just never do learn to distinguish between great writing and, uh, less great writing.
I still don’t see how that’s possible. But certain bestsellers make it plain that the quality of the writing is not what matters to a good many readers. I would reference Fifty Shades here but in fact I haven’t read even a page of it, so I really shouldn’t. (But kind of did, yes.)
Here’s one category I left out in my guest post: for capturing the alien viewpoint — CJ Cherryh. Daniel Kerns (Jacqueline Lichtenberg). Martha Wells’ Raksura trilogy, actually, though that’s more subtle in some ways. I’m missing somebody, but I can’t think who. Who else does a great job with aliens that think like themselves and not like humans?