#5Books: What is good writing?

#5Books Book recs for the week ending 9 APril 2017

Is it like a rule of the universe that Friday gets to be the busiest day of the week? Can we change that so it’s the quietest day instead?

I’ve been thinking about what makes good writing recently – I thought about a post I did about what I looked for when I was reading a review, and thought maybe that would probably encapsulate pretty much what I need to be good writing. And it does – plot, pacing, characterisation… but I also need to feel something for the characters and that one is pretty much subjective all the way, I know.

The article here is what got me thinking about it, and here the author focuses on writing – metaphor and imagery and language, and I have to admit, I didn’t once think of good writing like that. If I had, I would say good writing to me – language wise – would be filled with wit, and humour, without needing to be big and bombastic and filled with one-line cliffhangers. But I also realised good writing to me doesn’t always need imagery and flowery language and metaphors – straightforward, direct writing can be as evocative.

But back to the feeling thing – I think it needs to come with the writing I describe above – I need to feel something for the characters. Let me put this into context for you – I’ve been reading this thriller – and it’s got that part down pat – edge of your seat, tension filled writing. But I can’t connect with the characters. It’s a legal thriller of sorts, but there’s not as much time in the courtroom as you’d think. And I’ve been trying to figure out why – I think it’s perhaps the inclusion of the legal speak threw me right out of the human connection in the story. I’m still trying to properly articulate that for my review.

So what makes good writing for you?

For me? Good writing would be not needing to mention Gone Girl in a blurb constantly. Can I get an Chrome extension that just blocks those words from all Goodreads blurbs please? Because otherwise, this sound delicious:

The Cutaway

Reporter on the case of a missing lawyer. Throw in politics and business and their underbellies in Washington DC, and I think this has all the elements of an excellent thriller. Without the Gone Girl mention. I want to know more about the reporter, Virginia Knightly, who suddenly has a feeling there’s more to the case of this missing lawyer – what makes her think that? What is it about Kelly as a character that has her defying everything and everyone to investigate this case? It’s interesting there’s no description of why this character suddenly decides to follow this feeling about the lawyer? Is there something there the blurb isn’t telling?

Then, there’s this which from the title you know is going to hurt:

The Stolen Child 

A couple, Zoe and Ollie, have been trying for years to have kids, before they decide to adopt and find themselves the proud parents of Evie. Years later they’re now a family of four, and that’s when Evie’s birth father comes looking for her… but the questions is: who was Evie stolen from?

See. It’s going to hurt.

The next book plays on that romantic trope everyone falls for: The One. Except, it turns it on it’s head big time.

The One

Sleepless in Seattle remains one of my most favourite movies of all time. Like without fail, so I am a sucker for the right kind of movie that sends it’s characters searching for The One. But this book, man it turns that whole thing on it’s head in the most wonderful, juicy way – what if the one, the person genetics says is your soul mate, has a secret – the kind they don’t want to share.

Good right?

This next thriller I picked because… it actually kind of reminded me of the book I’m currently reading by an Australian author. So it’s part curiousity to see how this author envisions this plot, which at its heart is all about secrets.


When they’re 15, Kevin and his friend Bobby commit a crime — the kind which has Bobby bearing the consequences, and Kevin still looking forward to a bright future. So what did they do? But that’s not actually the story anyway because 20-something years later, Kevin finds out his old friend (who he hasn’t seen in 20-something years since he left) is the prime suspect in a string of murders. So, Kevin heads back to help his friend, and face the guilt for what happened … because he is guilty of something. It’s the past crime, the one that separated these friends that I find more intriguing especially in the potential it has for characterisation. 

I have a deep love for this next series. And even though the third book in this series has given me some reservations in regards to Max Wolfe’s character, I cannot deny I squealed happily when I saw this!

Die Last

Here, Tony Parson’s plot revolves around immigrants, who are found dead in a truck – 12 bodies. But there are 13 passports in the cab of the truck, so where is the 13th person? Parson’s weaves excellent, emotional and tension-filled  plots without needing … big stuff to up the tension in his book. Restrained. Nods. I like this word. And, Max remains one of the better developed and memorable characters I’ve recently read. This one I’m putting on this list because Parson’s is my go-to writer – his plots are excellent, and so is his characterisation (with some exceptions I can forgive or rather live with).

So these are on my mind this week. Seems like I’m in the mood for thrillers, huh?


  • Oh I would so get that Chrome extension. I loathe the Gone Girl references in a blurb. The first two books sound like ones I would enjoy. Thanks for sharing!!

    • Verushka says:

      *high fives* Grace ! So over Gone Girl being the only noteworthy book worth mentioning (apparently). Are they aware other writers — female ones even have written good books too since Gone Girl came out?

  • Love this post, it’s an analysis and book recs in one! I’ve never heard of Tony Parsons, but I love a kind of restrained tension so I clearly need to look into his work.

  • I’m with you. I need to connect with the characters to connect with a book. There are rare exceptions but they are few and very far between. And I am so tired of the “Girl” comparisons. It’s about as played out as the “Shades” comparisons. What’s wrong with being original for a change?

  • haha YUP I would say you feel like reading thrillers 🙂 The Stolen Child is on my radar too It does sound irresistible 🙂 I totally agree with you about good writing. I love beautiful metaphoric prose BUT if I look back at the books that have captivated me they are almost all straightforward, direct writing. Tell me what is happening NOW LOL Characterization is paramount also.

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