What are six qualities of good writing?
According to Google, there are close to 130,000,000 books in existence. Each year there are thousands of new ones published. With the growing popularity of self-publishing, the numbers of books are increasing each year. Publishing is being made easy, which also means there are hundreds to thousands of “bad” stories out there. The last thing any reader wants on their shelf is a horribly written book.
If you’re serious about writing, making it your career, then learn what makes a good story great. Posted below are the six qualities of good writing.
As I’ve stated in other blogs, continue to read as many books as possible. Reading teaches us different styles, ways to develop plots, and expands our vocabulary. Authors that read often are better at their craft.
As the writer of the article, “Reading Fuels Imagination” Winston Hall writes, “In the past I used my imagination to picture barnyard animals and Dr. Seuss characters. Suddenly I was using my imagination to feel sadness, sympathy, happiness and excitement for the characters.” (Hall). This is true for everyone, expand your imagination through reading and it can only improve your writing.
“Write what you know.” This statement is a classic cliche in the literary world. Every genre of writing requires some type of research. For example, authors that write historical novels need to know everything they possibly can about society, technology, fashions, jobs, and historical events of that time.
Research is essential for professional authors to be taken seriously. One fabricated fact can discredit a writer, turning the reader off from their other novels. I know I’ve wrinkled my nose at the books I’ve read with unbelievable or wrong information.
Grammar allows us to communicate in a structured way that everyone can understand. To be taken seriously (as I’ve said several times), spend time learning the rules of your language. Spend the money on a good editor when the time comes.
I’m not concerned about a couple of misplaced or misspelled words in a book. No one is perfect. However, I have recently read a novel full of grammatical errors. The plot was okay but I grew increasingly more irritated. Did the author have an editor for the book? Did the editor even care that his or her work was horrendous? Whatever the case may be, the review wasn’t as high as it could have been because I was constantly distracted by the mistakes.
Every good story should have a purpose. Why are you writing it? What is the message you want to get across to the reader? The very best novels never state the message outright. Author’s use the characters, drama, mystery, suspense, and dialogue to teach the reader the overall theme.
Go beyond the five senses. I tell beginner authors to make the reader feel like they are the character. Readers don’t want to be told, “Sam went for a walk.” Instead it’s more interesting to read; “The hot cement burned through the soles of Sam’s shoes. Avoiding the cracks, he lengthened his stride.”
In the second sentence we know he’s gone for a walk but there are additional details relating to his personality and the scene. The weather is hot enough to heat the sidewalk. Sam has slight OCD by avoiding the cracks. Readers may even wonder where he’s going in the sweltering climate. The first sentence wouldn’t invoke any curiosity. Read over your own writing, watching for generic sentences that could be rewritten with better details.
Think back to your favorite books. I’d bet you loved them because you’ve made some sort of emotional connection with the characters. Winston Hall puts it perfectly in his article, “Reading Fuels Imagination.” He states, “Books are magical, a sublime medium of communication where you can follow the progress of characters and wonder, when you’re not reading, how they’re doing.” (Hall).
We read books in the hopes the stories will move us in some way. They make us question our own lives or better relate to others. Good books change people.
To follow up the six qualities of good writing, fellow authors; Warren Troy and Bonnye Matthews have included their thoughts on the subject.
A good writer is like a good mechanic, in a sense. Faulty work causes poor performance. It’s like a movie with a good cast or lead character, but the script sucks. The potential for something good is there, but it isn’t brought forth. If someone doesn’t know good language, how can they fault someone else?
Alaska Wilderness Adventure Author
Author of Trails, The Last Homestead, and Jester
From my personal point of view, having a good story that is told well is what writing should be. I find today that people are making new rules for grammar. I have a live and let live reaction to that. I won’t read a novel filled with “garbage grammar” no matter how supposedly good the story is. Frankly, it fries my brain. I also won’t let others dictate to me what is good grammar. I know good grammar. When I hear that passive voice should be killed each time it’s used, I want to cringe. Passive voice has a wonderful contribution to our language, and used effectively it can change the brutal to polite, communicate when the subject is an unknown, as well as add rich variety to one’s sentence structure.
When I read, I look for a good story told well using proper rules of grammar. I wouldn’t buy the services of someone who didn’t care to learn his craft, whatever that craft might be. I wouldn’t go to a mechanic for heart surgery, no matter how good the mechanic is. A writer, in my opinion, should know the rules of grammar. If he or she breaks them, they should break them knowing what they do. For example, I use fragments all the time—-in dialog. People speak in fragments frequently. I use contractions. People use contractions in speech. If, however, I were writing a white paper, there would be no fragments or contractions anywhere. That’s because what applies to a novel does not apply to super serious non-fiction. Rules vary from place to place. If a writer doesn’t know the rules, serious people will not take that writer seriously. Using the rules and having something to say can move mountains.
For a writer who doesn’t care about being taken seriously and uses questionable grammar, he or she should go for it. If that person wants to be taken seriously, then taking a grammar course would be a very good plan prior to writing. Once a writer puts material “out there,” he or she has made a first impression. That impression is important regardless of the primary goal.
Award Winning Writer of Prehistoric Fiction, Author of Ki’ti’s S
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