What’s the difference between a good book and a great book?


Even a thriller needs to have heart if it touches the emotion of the reader.

We have broken books up into two categories. Those we can’t remember. And those we can’t forget.

Stephen Woodfin and I are always looking for the missing link between a good book and a great book.

It’s fleeting.

It’s elusive.

It’s a mystery.

We know all about themes.

Books are about life and death, I say.

Books are about love and death, he says.

Books are about characters, I say.

Don’t worry about plots, he says.

The characters take care of the plots.

They always do.

On that, we both agree.

So what makes one book better than another.

We’ve read a lot.

Mysteries that keep us guessing until the very end.

Thrillers that hold us in their terrible grip of suspense.

Science Fiction that dares us to suspend our disbelief.

Romance that makes us fall in love, or at least understand why others fall in love.

Ghost stories that are disturbing.

Erotica that is even more disturbing, although it seems that some authors these days are disguising erotica as fantasy romance, which, perhaps, makes it more acceptable in public.

Maybe I’m wrong.

I don’t know a lot about either.

Stephen and I have broken books up into two categories.

Those we can’t remember.

They are legion.

And those we can never forget.

They are rare.

So what’s the difference between them?

Stephen and I believe it comes down to one word.


It’s like the old song.

When you write, you gotta have heart.

You have to reach deep into a reader’s soul and touch an emotion.

A lump in the throat is good.

A tear is better.

And it doesn’t have to be a tear of sadness.

A great plot isn’t enough, no matter how many twists and turns it has, no matter how many puzzles are conjured up to confuse us.

Neither are great characters, and there have been some good ones.

I just wish I could recall their names.

Action, no matter how exciting, can leave a reader cold.

But heart?

How do I feel about it?

In a good book, the reader hears the heartbeat.

In a great book, the reader feels the heartbeat.

It matches his own.

It matches her own.

And it keeps beating long after the last page is read.

Please click HERE to find Secrets of the Dead on Amazon.

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