What Makes Good Writing?

Comments: 2

Not being an English major, to me good writing transcends proper grammar, syntax, sentence structure, i.e. all the stuff we learned in grade school and high school. I would like to think everyone can do those things, though I'm very distressed when I see university grad students who obviously haven't learned those skills and can't properly link one thought to another.

For writing to be good, it has to move me, the reader as well as the writer. Now, it's difficult to describe just what that means. To move me it has to resonate somewhere with my feelings. Not everyone will identify with, or agree with what it is that moves "me." Everyone is moved by different things. Some are moved by horror stories, others by romance, or westerns, or what have you. Still, genre is not the issue. It's how well the subject matter is displayed, how well it grabs me, the reader, and propells me to read on. How well I can indentify with the character(s).

There is no magic potion that can insure that our writing is done well enough to move a given reader. Sometimes it's a matter of taste. Other times, it's a matter of resonance.

What I suggest is to read books that move you, resonate with you. Try to find what it is about that book, the characters if you will, that resonates with you. Is it the writing style? Is it the subject matter? Is it something else? What is it that propells you to read on?

Then, write, write, write until your own writing moves you. If it doesn't move you, it ain't likely to move anyone else. If it does move you, then you stand a chance of moving at least one other person, and hopefully an entire audience large enough to make your writing worth while.

Note that I did not say profitable, just worth while. Not all good writing, sells well. But it certainly can still be worth while, at least to you and those who love your writing.

About Paul West

Paul West is a freelance writer and novelist. Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Paul claims to be a "Prune Picker," though he now makes his home in Taylorsville, Utah.

You can follower him on Twitter: @PaulWWest

Published: Tuesday, March 27, 2007

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