I love the texture of tree bark, but that isn’t why I took this photo. If you take a second and more scrutinous look, you’ll see that this is a picture of a well-camouflaged moth.
Sometimes there’s more going on around us than our eyes take in. In driving, they’re called blind spots: areas around the vehicle that the driver can’t see without making a special eﬀort.
Blind spots are a driving danger, but they can also be a reading pleasure. Most (non-academic) readers don’t really care what tactics the writer has used to create the book; those readers focus on their own response— if they liked the book or not—and if the answer is a positive one, it doesn’t really matter to them how the writer managed to accomplish that aﬀection. In fact, over-thinking the writer’s techniques might even spoil things somewhat for the reader, just as knowing a magician’s tricks can spoil a magic act.
I periodically remind my students—and myself—that the point of learning to become stronger writers is not so that we can show oﬀ by performing a series of fancy writers’ tricks. The point is to create the best magic we can; magic that awes and astonishes the reader. We want the tricks themselves to be invisible to the casual reading eye. Learning more writing tricks gives a writer a greater repertoire to draw on, but the point isn’t for the tricks to take over the writing and call attention to themselves.
Sometimes it’s the simplest magic that creates the best show.