What Is Good Writing?

So many forms of writing exist today. Posts, novels, curriculum, poetry, tweets, texts, news, tabloids, advertisements and so much more. What is it that sets apart the good writing from the bad?

I want to suggest that good writing isn’t just what simply gets the facts across and entertains, but what moves the soul and makes the human mind engage. It’s amazing how words can come alive when you have the right structure behind it. So what creates good writing?

F. Scott Fitzgerald says that “all good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath”. There’s a number of things she could have meant by this, but what I believe part of what she meant is how it’s difficult to do, but worth the view. When you swim under water, or put in the effort to write good pieces, you get a whole new experience than just swimming with your head above water.

It’s surely difficult to find ways to connect with another person’s heart and pull at the strings that are their emotions, but when you do it, you’ve got yourself a good read.

One way to connect with readers is by writing with emotion involved. If you can write pieces that relate to emotions others have experienced or if you can evoke empathy through writing, it will be much more memorable than other writings. The communication assessment and learning lab says that pathos (emotional appeal) can be established through “vivid storytelling, descriptive use of language, engaging delivery of information, emotional emphasis in themes and words, and humor”.

Another way to get a reader involved in your writing is by using descriptive imagery that draws the reader in so that they feel like they are a part of the occurrences in your piece. E.L. Doctorow says “Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader — not the fact that it is raining, but the feeling of being rained upon”. That I really believe is the difference. It’s about writing in a way that tugs on the senses of the reader so that they can see and feel and imagine being there in the writing.

I’m sure there are many, many thousands of more things to be said about what makes a written piece good or bad, but I believe these things are of the utmost importance. Getting the reader engaged is what it’s all about. On top of that, the reader needs to get caught up in the writing so they feel they are there.

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