Trainwrecks, Writers and Storytellers

My kids and I were talking about writers and books and trainwrecks the other day.  Trainwrecks as in the kind of books that we sometimes find ourselves reading that we keep asking ourselves…why am I reading this….

Specifically, my kids and I got to talking about trainwrecks.

Let me explain what a trainwreck is…They are the books that riddled with plotholes or characters that just don’t make sense.  In romance, sometimes the hero is a total ass.  I don’t mean alphahole.  I mean an ass.  The heroine is BEYOND TSTL.  There are things tripping us up every other line.

And yet…these books can sell.  And sometimes, we love them.  It’s confusing.  I told my kids that I think I had the answer to this figureed out and it’s pretty simple.

I think, basically, there are three kinds of writers.  Now there are going to some variations and ‘subsets’, so to speak of these writers, but these are the ‘core’ types of writers.  Maybe the ‘archetypes’ of the writers out there.

You’ve got trainwrecks, writers and storytellers.


The trainwrecks are the ones who can produce trashy crack.  It’s the why am I reading this…type of book. You can’t put it down.  You might want to, you might not.  Maybe it’s a ride on a rickety roller coaster and you’re loving it.  Or maybe it’s just a trainwreck and you want to look away and can’t.

You might even be one of those people who love trainwrecks.

The point is, that a trainwreck book is one that you know is flawed like hell but you can’t stop reading it.  Whether or not you’ll read another book by that author? Who knows.  Some trainwreck authors only have a few books in them and then they just…disappear. Some keep putting out trainwrecks and sometimes the writing improves, other times it doesn’t…the characters don’t grow, the stories don’t evolve.

You love them…until you don’t.

These writers don’t know much of anything about the craft of writing. Which is fine, because we all gotta start somewhere and we tend to start out crawling.

Of course, the key here is that you gotta start to walk at some point.

They never learn to walk, per se. They don’t try to grow their craft.


Writers probably make up the biggest group.  They can tell a story.  That story may hold your interest, but you may or may not go back and buy more from them.

More, they tend to improve over time.

Some may be bigger names, some of them may be smaller names…some may never even get published.

But they try to grow. They either consciously or unconsciously work to improve and their stories get better.


These are the magicmakers.  In my book, these are the people like Lynn Viehl, Nora Roberts,  Ilona Andrews, Nalini Singh and some of my newest favorites… Peter Clines and Marc Greaney.

They have it down and a lot of them just come by it naturally.  That doesn’t mean they don’t work at it, because they absolutely do, but I think there is an inborn gift for storytelling that some people just have.

They have it…and they work.  If you have that talent and then you push yourself, you create a story that is just magic.

Storytellers have that cracktastic appeal that a lot of the trainwreckers do, but they also understand the craft of writing and they work to improve.

They left crawling and walking behind a long time ago–they were probably born to fly.

These are the storytellers.

So… that was the dinner conversation a few days ago.  And that was one of the more normal ones.  You should hear us when we talk about things like… what if everything was made of strawberries…