What is good writing?

This seems like an easy question, until you sit down to answer it. Personally, I have always connected to writing that made me feel something. I believe that if a writer can capture attention and engage their audience, they may also impact them in a profound way.

In a more practical sense, writers who are concise and can communicate both eloquently and articulately are for the most part very successful.

Gonzaga University published a list of “Characteristics of Good Writing.” They narrow it down into 5 major points:

  1. Parallel Structure- This gives the writing a fluidity and rhythm. When using verbs, especially when listing them, keeping them all in the same tense is vital for the flow of the words. One of the most well known speeches in history, Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, uses this technique frequently.
  2. Conciseness- Many times when there are too many words being used, the reader will lose their focus and attention to the writing. When we use singular and powerful words, it is much more effective than lengthy and weaker phrases. For example, don’t say “due to the fact that” but instead use “because.”
  3. Sentence Variety- By adding variety to our writing, we also add interest. Simple, compound, complex, and compound-complex are all examples of different types of sentences. By changing up the structure of sentences, it keeps the reader on their toes.
  4. Correct Spelling and Grammar- This is just a requirement for all good writing, regardless of its purpose. It is distracting to the reader, who then needs to internally correct the error and try to refocus on the topic or point trying to be communicated. Examples such as comma splices, run-on sentences, and sentence fragments or incomplete sentences are common grammatical errors which can easily be avoided by utilizing spell check and simply proof reading your work.
  5. Effective Paragraphing- Sticking to one topic per paragraph is suggested for the organizational integrity of the writing while also including a topic sentence for the reader’s comprehension. Linking ideas together by repeating key ideas or terms can also help maintain the logic of the paragraph as well. Finally, using transitional expressions help to show the reader where you are going, seamlessly flowing the move from one paragraph to another.

With these ideas in mind, great writing is not far off. In fact, it is quite close so far as we are diligent in our steps and we are motivated to impact our readers.