What is always a puzzle to me is knowing what makes a piece of work Good.  You know what I mean - you know instinctively when you read - or hear - a piece of prose, if it is good. The fabulous performance poet Kate Tempest rolls words together, rolls them apart, and collides them head-on to create the slickest, most stunning lyrical journey for her listeners.  And yet in other fields, the writer/s are not doing such a good job.  Last night I was watching a television programme presented by two people and their styles were so different I could only assume that their scripts were written by two different people. I don’t know enough about television presenting to know if this is the case, but Presenter One was easy to listen to and engaging, even though on this occasion the subject matter didn’t actually appeal (cars).  Presenter Two was trying so hard to emphasise all the wrong words in all the wrong places it was painful to listen to and found myself muttering Why Are You Speaking Like That? As well as the less-than-natural delivery, after a while, I realised it was also the script that rubbish.  Someone tell me - do television script writers have to hand their work over to others to have it ripped apart and put back together properly - a script editor per chance? - because if they do, the one in charge of the programme I was watching last night should be sacked.  Enthusiasm is all well and good in the right place - but you wouldn’t want an earnestly effervescent vicar slapping her or his thigh at a funeral and stressing ALL the WRONG words would YOU? No, you WOULDn’t.
It’s the same with reading something.  You know what you’re reading is good from surely the first three words?  I have recently been asked to review some books and of book one I found myself saying out loud No No No!!  The opening was so wrong I considered a quick whizz round with the Hoover followed by a spritz of the loo would be preferable to reading more, but was obliged to continue to the next paragraph.  Imagine if I’d been standing in a book shop, looking to buy a book.  Not judging a book by its cover, I would have opened book one only to drop it back down again within, say, three seconds.  That’s really bad!  Sadly the novel hasn’t got any better. Book two has been a more laborious effort in that it has an interesting plot, but lacks discipline; ie no editor seems to have been anywhere near it with the infamous Red Pen (or rather Text Edit) and it shows.  So much effort!  Such a waste of time! 
Which brings me back to where I started: what makes a novel/script/poem/short story good from the get-go? You tell me!

Writers Village Winner Susi Dillon
Poet Kate Tempest
How To Write A Book
Writing Tips Courtesy of The Book Trust
The Poetry Society