“…writing so good, I didn’t notice it.” When I first read this line in a book review, some years back, my initial thoughts were – the poor author.

As writers, we agonise over words to convey just the right message, layer our descriptions to build a certain atmosphere, craft phrases to achieve the correct imagery in readers’ minds.

There are those inspired sentences: ones that come to you into the night, those that spring into your mind in the supermarket queue. Lines that need to be scribbled down on the back of old receipts, scraps of paper, backs of hands; caught quickly before they slip away into the deep, dark abyss within our heads.

When my writing tutor cast her red pen across these precious lines, I wanted to wrap my arms around them, my babies to protect. As she whipped them out, I wanted to run to the waste paper basket, uncurl the crumpled pieces, and insert them back into my work.

Instead, I thought about books I have read. It’s no secret that I have a penchant for crime thrillers. I’m a sucker for a good page turner. It got me thinking – how many times do you see ‘spare’ words and phrases in a thriller? The simple answer is never. Why? Because they distract the reader and detract from the story. In point, they can be the difference between a reader loving or hating your book.

As those inspired lines were prised from me, I realised that in the early days I was being self indulgent. I used some prose because I really liked it, not because it either added to, or drove, the story forward. And that is what it is all about – the story. We are here to spin a good yarn.

So, I aspire towards “writing so good, I didn’t notice it.” If I achieve this, I’ll know I’ve done my job.

Add Note: You can read an excerpt from An Unfamiliar Murder on my new website at www.janeisaac.co.uk  It would be great to see some of you there!


Jane Isaac’s first novel, An Unfamiliar Murder, will be released by Rainstorm Press in February 2012. Jane is still very much a Newbie and with a day job, a family and a very demanding black Labrador, she squeezes her writing into every spare moment she gets. Join her on the rocky road from pen to publication!


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  • EditorProofer
    Posted on January 9, 2012 at 9:25 am

    So true! I often get the feeling that the story was a lower priority (to the author) than the clever sentences and phrases they’ve tried so hard to come up with.

    If I have a great line that I rescue from the wastepaper basket, I’ll scribble it on a post-it or scrap of paper until–one day–it suits the story I’m writing. Plenty of them still haven’t been seen by anyone but me though! LOL

  • Jane Isaac
    Posted on January 9, 2012 at 11:10 am

    Hey! Thanks for the comment. I, too, have scraps of paper with favourite words & lines dotted all over the place. They’ll probably never get used, but I can’t part with them completely – just in case. LOL

  • Kathryn Lang
    Posted on January 11, 2012 at 7:59 am

    I love this concept and think it would make a GREAT writing group promp – write one paragraph so well that people do not even notice the writing.

  • Jane Isaac
    Posted on January 11, 2012 at 9:13 am

    Good idea Kathryn! Thanks for your lovely comment and for stopping by.

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