So. Given my very limited free time and the fact that I kind of hate this book, why did I plow through it, devouring words like I just ended a hunger strike?
The characters. Gah, the characters. I BELIEVE in them. I believe in their romance. I desperately need them to end up together and resolve all the tension. I spent days after finishing in the kind of grief haze you experience when you realize a story is finished and you can't go back to the world it pulled you into.
Novels are a strange thing. There are two (at least) very unique elements that go into writing a novel: storytelling and craft. Someone like Stefanie Meyer is a master storyteller. Whatever your feelings about the Twilight series, chances are you have feelings. The relationships she created get under your skin. I read through at an embarrassing clip, with my inner 15-year-old dying of happiness. The rational part of myself sat back in horror, questioning why I could delight in something so obviously flawed.
The reverse of that is someone who is a master at craft, but the story fails to grab me. I KNOW Moby Dick is a classic for a reason, but I loathed reading it. I relish Tolkien's writing, but I finding reading his books a slog. Mind you, it's all subjective. My mom and brother reread The Lord of the Rings trilogy a couple times a year. They'd probably hate Twilight. But the fact remains, novels can be successful even if they only have one of these two elements.
When it comes to writing, I think craft comes easier to me. It can be learned. It can be improved. But storytelling, at least on some level, is innate. While you can memorize story arcs and fit your story into a perfect beat sheet, but without that thing, that intangible quality that makes a story REAL, it's just words.
And then there are those perfect books that somehow hit both aspects and everything is wonderful and there are angelic choirs and you race to Twitter to fangirl all over the poor unsuspecting writers. Those books? Those books are magic.
So I will continue to perfect my craft and search my heart for stories in hope that one day I will write that magic book that makes my readers rush to finish then ache because it's over. Because that's what I dream of as a writer.
What about you, dear readers? Do can you forgive craft for a killer story? Or tolerate a lackluster story for flawless craft?