Character Traits of a Good Writer by Elle James

Hi, I’m Elle James and I’m a writer. Sounds like a confession to an obsession. Well, it is!

Writing is an obsession I’m glad I have. Many people I know are surprised and excited to learn I’ve become a writer. So often I get the comment, “I’ve always wanted to write.” But outside my writer friends, there are few that take the leap and become a writer. If you sat in a church with 500 people and asked how many have written a book, the chances are that number would be really low. To write a full manuscript and actually get it published makes the odds even greater.

opxoxocover160So what makes a good writer? Here are a few of the traits that make a good writer.

Loves to read – First and foremost a writer should love reading. If you’re not writing something you would want to read, then why bother? Most writers get their start because they love to read a good book. Many times a writer will be disgusted by the poor quality of what they are reading. They might even say “I could do better than that!” It’s up to the writer who loves to read a good book to create such a thing.

Passionate – A good writer is passionate about her chosen occupation. Passionate about the words she is writing and passionate about the finished product. The passion shows in the writing through the emotions of the characters and the emotional reaction the readers have to the characters the writer breathes to life on the pages. Without passion, the book will be flat, uninteresting and just plain dull. The writer’s passion reminds him why she chooses to write. Whether it’s to entertain others, for the self-satisfaction of knowing you created a book worthy of publishing or just because you love knowing that others “got the message” in your written words, passion is something everyone wants to feel, live and enjoy throughout their lives. What better place than in your writing?momsrosefinalcolors

Thick-skinned – A writer’s life may be lonely and sedentary, but by no means is it easy. Writing is NOT for sissies. A thick skin is a must to make it in the business of writing. Criticism is everywhere. From critique partners, to editors to the ultimate readers of your books. If you can’t handle the heat, don’t step into the line of fire. Most writers go through many iterations of critiques and edits before their books finally reach the reading public. A writer with a weak backbone would crumble. If you don’t already have one, grow a spine!

Observant – A good writer observes people and events around him/her, always searching for a germ of an idea to seed new stories. People watching is a fertile breeding ground for fresh crops of ideas. Reading and watching television or movies gets the wheels turning, keeps the ideas coming. From news reports to existing movies, books and television, a good writer can put a twist on a story or come up with a spin-off. By watching, reading and experiencing life with her eyes wide open, the writer can be guaranteed a bottomless well of fresh ideas.

Persistent – A good writer is persistent. Not only does the writer have to force herself to sit in a chair day after day, pounding away on a keyboard to get a full manuscript written, she has to sell her work. Rejection after rejection could douse the flame of some of the most passionate people. But not the writer. A writer keeps trying, keeps writing the next great novel. Throw a wet noodle against the wall enough times and eventually it’ll stick. It can take years to hone your skills and even more years for an editor to recognize your talent and buy your book. A good writer never gives up.

Makes criticism work for him – Writers are subject to loads of feedback on their work. The good writer sifts through the feedback and changes what needs to be changed and tosses the rest. The primary lesson a writer must learn is to be the best judge on when to accept the changes and when to stand up and say no. Some writers refuse to change a thing in their manuscript. An editor wants to know a writer is willing to consider changes. If they aren’t, they may not sell the book.

Writes a good story – Bottom line, the most important trait of a good writer is that she can tell a good story. A good story is always in the eye of the beholder. The good writer writes the book of his heart, a tale of characters overcoming obstacles to reach their goals. A good writer makes his reader cheer for the characters, makes the reader lose herself in the story to the point she can’t put the book down until the end. It’s all about the characters and their story. A good writers sucks them in and won’t let go.


elle-james-pic-3Best-Selling author and Golden Heart Winner Elle James made a new-year’s resolution in January of 2000 to become a published author. In 2004 she left a career as manager of computer programmers to pursue her writing goals. In 2005, her dream came true when Dorchester published her first novel, the 2004 Golden Heart Winner for Best Paranormal. She’s since sold 15 Romantic Suspenses to Harlequin Intrigue and 2 paranormals to Dorchester & Silhouette Nocturne.

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15 thoughts on “Character Traits of a Good Writer by Elle James”

  1. Welcome Elle,glad you came by,interesting post,I admire anyone who can write,wish I was tallented like that,but glad others are so I can enjoy!

  2. Elle,

    I must agree with you. To become a writer takes alot of hard work. I am a writer and I love it.
    Your post touches on every aspect and I know that you hold the same candle I do about my writing

    Walk in harmony,

  3. Elle, welcome back to P&P. We’re always glad to have you come visit. You listed some great reminders for writers. Very good information for someone who’s wanting to be a sellable author.

  4. Great post Elle, nice to see your here! I love to read the Intrugued line. Thanks for sharing with us today!

  5. I’m a reader and I truly appreciate what goes into the writing of a book and then getting it published too. Thanks for the insights..

  6. Hi Elle,

    You’ve given me more reasons to be appreciative
    of authors! And more reasons to be happy that they
    are the writers and I am the reader! Thanks for the
    information and for visiting with us today!

    Pat Cochran

  7. I always enjoy reading your books. It’s nice to get to know a little about you. Have a great holiday season.

  8. Hi, Elle,
    Nice post, well thought out and very true. As a reader, I appreciate a well written story, one (as you say) sucks me in and won’t let go. One where it is “just one more chapter and I’ll go to bed.” I love books like that, but I really need to get more sleep. When you look at the clock and wonder how it got to be 3 AM already, its a good book. It is one reason I read Harlequin Historicals and Intrigues or books about the same thickness. If I do get sucked in, at least there is hope I’ll get some sleep before I need to go to work:o)
    Have read a couple of your Intrigues and enjoyed them. Nicely suspenseful. Keep up the good writing so we can keep up that late night reading.

  9. Hi all!
    Sorry to post again so late. This is moving weekend for me! We moved across town, no biggee, but just as tiring. My computer is hooked up on the floor, searching for a new desk at the stores. Boy do I need one. Mine was over 20 years old. Egads! Still, need on in my office since I gave my old one to my youngest daughter. Got to writing again, been in remodel mode for way too long. Loved all the comments, glad to be hear again!


  10. Hi Elle, Popping again to say I feel your pain! My husband and I have been in the new house for about 10 days now. We’re about 2/3 moved in. Whether you go across town or 540 miles like we did, moving is a HUGE undertaking. Hope you find a new desk soon!

  11. hmmmm……….. maybe I could write. On second thought I think I will leave it to the authors I already love to read.

  12. I’m excited to see the cover of your holiday release, Elle. I read NICK OF TIME and it was so delightful!!! Wishing you continued success and many more wonderful books.

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