Many people believe they must possess an amazing vocabulary or write long descriptive prose to be a good writer. Sadly the way writing is sometimes taught at school – with much emphasis put on using unusual words and complex sentence construction – people are often put off altogether. But whether you are writing a book, a press release or an article, the key is to keep it simple. Here are the top ten ways to identify good writing – and doing that is the first step to becoming a better writer yourself…
Good writing …
* Isn’t something you notice. When you read a book or a news article, you should be immersed in the story – and not the way it is written.
* Flows. If something is well written you can read it fast – you can even skim read it because it is clear and simple enough to scan.
* Isn’t something you need to re-read to understand. If you need to re-read a page or chapter in a book because you’ve literally lost the plot, it is badly written (and life’s too short to bother reading any further…)
* Doesn’t make you reach for the dictionary. In fact, a good writer can use words you might not have heard of before but because those words are used properly in context within a sentence, you will naturally understand them.
* Gets straight to the point. Any literary agent will tell you make or break for a book is often the first page (or the first chapter at worse) and in a press article or press release, people want the information straightaway. In this case the very first sentence is all-important.
* Isn’t stuffed with adjectives. In fact, a very good writer will use descriptive words sparingly, if at all. They can describe someone’s personality by relaying what they say in quotes and what they do.
* Can bring a scene alive. Tip: Some of the greatest writers only use ‘he/she said’ after quotes because ‘said’ disappears, leaving the quote standing out. But if you put ‘he/she sighed/laughed/guffawed/remonstrated’ – you break the spell and remind the reader this is a (badly written) novel or article.
* Leaves you wanting more. ‘Less is more’ should be tattooed on the back of every writer’s hand. Never ramble and bore your reader.
* Fits in and is appropriate. So a newspaper article will be written differently from a newspaper feature and the same story will again be something else in a book. It will then be described in another way in a press release about the author. Reading the same story, and the way it is dealt with by different mediums can help everyone develop their writing skills.
* Can be compared to a pearl necklace. Clever writing holds together as perfectly as a string of beads. It has a rhythm, it evokes emotion in the reader and is as beautiful.
Do you have any more tips to add for good writing? Let us know in the comments below…