I have been thinking about something in light of the last 2 books I’ve read, and hoped some of you might be able to help me frame my thoughts.
I tend to like fiction w/ good character development and an engaging plot. I like books where something happens to characters I care about. (I acknowledge, just my personal preference.) I read 50-70 books a year - about 50/50 F/NF, and tend to divide the fiction between what I call (for lack of better term) good vs average. (Well, the writing varies similarly for the NF, but here I’m talking about fiction.)
Last book was Anxious People - by Frederik Backman. He also wrote A Man Called Ove, and several other books. I’ve thought most of his books pretty exceptionally written. Not only are the characters/situations interesting, but he has great skill in subtly phrasing things and making observations about human behavior that I consider very perceptive. And the structure of his books are often unusual - you start them off and it takes a while before you really know where it is going. But they are not REALLY weird/challenging, like Italo Calvino or something. And the odd bits are’nt just tossed in for effect, as you sometimes perceive - an author who wants to APPEAR arty. Maybe E. Annie Proulx might be a similar author. Her writing is unusual, but displays exceptional craft. Yet the characters and plot are very believable.
Then I started A Good Neighborhood by Therese Anne Fowler. It is an interesting enough book, but it just impresses me as less well crafted. The characters and plot are well developed and believable enough, but are drawn in seemingly more broad and predictable strokes. A lot of the added details impress me as inserted in an almost clunky manner - like the author researched a certain thing just to try to add nuance/color. The work is a clever enough accomplishment, and I’m happy enough to spend a couple of days with it, but it is nothing I would call especially well-written, and I will not seek out similar books by the author.
I perceive a lot of this in popular fiction. The writing is entertaining enough, but when I read it, I almost think that I could have written that. As opposed to some of the other type, where I’m really impressed w/ the writer’s craft.
I experience similar distinction in Thrillers - another of my favorite genres. I believe someone like Mick Herron writes extremely well in his Slough House series. But many other thrillers are just formulaic plot.
I apologize for the vagueness of my post, but do any of you perceive a similar distinction in writing styles as I’m trying to describe? If so, how do you describe it - either to yourself or in discussions w/ other?