Of course, you want to say both, but it’s never that simple. As you research writing, what will red-flag you as an amateur or an industry professional, you learn the tricks of the trade to increase your chances of being published. For discussions sake, lets say that sticking to these will ensure your tent is firmly pitched into the writers camp. But you find successful exceptions to these rules: authors who can tell a great story without staying true to the accepted writing conventions. And damn, do they tell a good story. And yes, I used an adverb in this paragraph.
As a reader, I’m not too bothered as long as my interest as held. I even don’t mind if there’s no prose, the author used an alternative dialogue tag to said and, god forbid, when they are referring to a blue dress, it’s just blue. So why is it that we strive to hit all those literary buttons simultaneously with every finger that isn’t cramped with RSI? Respect from peers? Publisher interest?
Who is driving this train anyway? The readers. But how often do we listen, and how often are we too busy talking about how we don’t understand how Fifty Shades is so successful because the writing is an affront to the craft? The woman made money because she had everyone hanging on every chapter she released, and you know what? Even though the readers were pushing that train along, inevitably it was the non-readers who got that baby rolling. And why? Maybe because they didn’t have to worry about how it was written, they just wanted a good story. We all talk about hitting those markets, but with people reading less every year, the market I would love to hit? Non-readers. True story.
On my first draft, I was telling a story – just get the story out. But I believe that by my final draft, my book turned into a novel, my storytelling into writing. But my final question is this: should we let the craft of writing interfere with telling a good story?