What is Good Writing?
ou know it when you see it. It isn’t that hard to tell whether a piece of writing is good or bad. You just have to read it. But things get more challenging if you have to explain why. Even harder than that is analyzing the good things a writer is doing so you can learn to use his or her techniques in your own work. Having simple phrases to describe the good things writers do makes learning about those things easier.
What does a good piece of writing look like? It’s hard to make something if you don’t know what it looks like. That’s why it’s so valuable to look at models of good writing produced by other writers just like you. On this page, you’ll find one short piece of writing. When I’m trying to learn about good writing, I like to work with short pieces, instead of big long novels, because it’s easier to see how all the different parts work together.
Stay away from filler. Writing is not about word counts or number of pages. It is about how the words you use make others feel when they read them.
Strive for simplicity, clarity and quality. Take time to simplify. Abraham Lincoln said, paraphrasing Pascal: “I’m sorry I wrote such a long letter. I did not have time to write a short one.” Avoid getting caught up in scholarship, jargon, and complexity. Quality writing is clear, easy to understand, and simple. You can visualise a culture of simplicity as a fish tank with clean water and a culture of complexity as a fish tank with dirty water. If your writing does not make sense, if it does not flow, if it is awkward in any way, simplify
Eliminate the fluff. Eliminate whatever is not contributing to great writing. Stay away from filler. Writing is not about word counts or a number of pages. It is about how the words you use make others feel when they read them. Say what you want to say and move on.
An organisation is driven by ideas. Ideas don’t make much sense if they aren’t arranged in some way. Something has to come first, something has to go last, and several things usually end up in the middle, one after another, in a logical sequence. To determine that sequence, think of a piece as being divided into parts, one for each group of ideas the writer is working with. To come up with a beginning, think about the best way to introduce these groups of ideas so that readers will be interested in them and want to find out more. Then, arrange the groups so that each one leads naturally into the next in a way that is interesting, entertaining, and consistent with the reader’s expectations. Finally, come up with an ending that feels finished and gives the reader something to think about.
If you want to work toward excellence and become a better writer, follow this 3-step game plan.
Step 1: Identify the values. Know what they are and why they are important.
Step 2: Practice the values. You must Practice hunger by being proactive and demonstrating a desire, passion, drive, and initiative to write. Further Practice consistency by disciplining yourself to write every day and make steady progress over time. And last but not the least, Practice perseverance by never giving up and not letting adversity deter you from your goals initiative to write.
Step 3: Develop the values. By practising the values over time, you will start to develop them and make them part of who you are. Once they are part of who you are, you will start to become a better writer. In fact, you will start to become better at whatever it is you want to do.
I am confident these can help you become a better writer. But as I stated earlier, the writing process is unique to each individual, so experiment to see what works best for you.
Writer: Priti Dholakia