Invisible writing, an essay of continuing interest, by William Tapply

January 14, 2020 | By Jim Stovall | Filed in: journalism.

Before his untimely death in 2009, one of the best mystery novelists around was William G. Tapply, creator of the Brady Coyne mystery series.

Tapply’s novels live up to the cover blurbs — well-formed characters, tightly woven plots and elegant writing.

Tapply practiced what many of us who teach writing often preach, and he gives voice to some of those practices in an essay titled “Invisible Writing.”

The essay tells the story of what Tapply learned from his father — also an excellent writer — when he was beginning his craft. The essay emphasizes two major points I make with my students:

— pay attention to verbs (read more on this) and

— try to make your writing invisible to the reader.

The term I use for the second point is “modesty.” A good writer should try to put the content in the foreground and the writer in the background.

Tapply’s essay and his novels are well worth reading.

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