What’s more important: Good writing? Or a good story?
(Of course, a book should have BOTH, but…)
Would you rather loose an arm or a leg? Sight or hearing?
Both things are equally important in different ways.
But not answering is a cop out when it comes to hypothetical questions.
I can honestly say, I have finished reading more books with poor writing and good stories than I have finished beautifully written but dull books.
Sometimes I find writing distracting. It can be a style issue or something my high school creative writing teacher would have sent back on my work in red ink. Mr. Brush was legendary. His criticism pushed my writing. Other teachers had given me the A and allowed me good-enough work. He made the effort to pull out the best in me like a good editor should.
When I see things in published work like telling instead of showing or using the same words throughout so many times it breaks the trance of the story. Showing not telling was my pet peeve with the few Danielle Steele I read years ago. She would say point blank x character has y and z personality traits instead of showing x behaving in ways demonstrating y and z. Twilight tended towards redundancy in word choice, a criticism I haven’t often heard, but one of the things which drove me bonkers when I read them.
Still, I finished the Twilight books and read more than one Danielle Steele novel. Why? Even, oh dear God, why?
The concepts were better than the execution.
It happens with movies, too, sometimes. The basic premise is sound, but the end product is bad.
If the plot is something I find compelling, I can overlook flaws or taste issues with the writing simply to find out what happens. Like most lifelong readers and connoisseurs of film and television, seeing how the elements of storytelling (there is nothing new under the sun) are used is a primary motivator for picking up new books or watching new movies and shows. Otherwise, I’d be perfectly happy to experience stories I’d read and seen over again. At my age with all the books I’ve read and enjoyed, coupled with my limited time for reading, I could keep myself happily busy with rereading for the rest of my life if not for the draw of experiencing a fresh take on those ages old ideas. Well done is best, but even done badly, I can enjoy deconstructing the treatment of the old-as-Methuselah plots and concepts often with an eye for how I would have handled the same material. Naturally, I’d do much better.