It’s reasonably difficult to define good writing. Many of the criteria are somewhat subjective. It’s even questionable whether good writing must meet all the grammar, spelling, and punctuation “rules”, especially if one of the aims of the written piece is to defy these rules.
Which brings up style or voice. If you’re an author, are you designing your work to be read as a formal treatise on a subject? Or, do you want to “talk” to your audience as if they were sitting with you in a room. Or is the setting in an alien location altogether? The language you use and the way you say things will likely be very different in each case. For example, if you write very formally, you may not allow any contractions (e.g., I’ll, won’t, can’t). On the other hand, you probably don’t speak that way in real life. So, if you’re chatting with your readers, contractions would not only be okay, but they’d be appropriate.
Okay, so how will you choose what tone of voice to write in? The answer may not be simple or easy, but is certainly is straightforward enough. READ!
Read as much as you can, from one end of the year (or decade) to the other. And the next piece of advice you might expect is, “If you write fiction, read fiction” or “If you write non-fiction, read non-fiction. But that’s not necessarily true. Read as much of both genres as possible.
Fiction gives you, for example, a feel for storytelling, pacing, humor, pathos, building suspense, getting to a solution, background development, and a whole host of other elements that make for good writing. On the other hand, non-fiction provides a sense of clear structure, presenting substantiating facts, showing detailed solution development, etc., which also make for good writing.
To write good, you’ll probably need elements from both fiction and non-fiction. And the more you read, the more you’ll develop as a good writer.
So, if you haven’t done so before you decided to become a writer, start reading as much as you can, and from as wide a variety of books, magazines, journals, etc. as possible. Remember. most of us learned to read before we learned to write. That’s some good advice to keep in mind.
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