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Author Antics Good Writing

What constitutes good writing? I asked the search engines and, as they are wont to do, they came up with pages and pages of answers. As I am wont to do, I looked over the first pages and decided none of the answers they supplied was sufficiently clear. I may not be correct, and there are a multitude of opinions to the contrary, but I believe there is a single word answer to the question. I want to share some of those opinions before I give you mine.

 

Good writing follows the rules of grammar and style with accurate word choices arranged in well crafted sentences. In other words, good writing is technically correct writing. e.e. cummings and i disagree. Writers like cummings break the rules all the time and yet, are rightfully acclaimed for their work.

 

In this vein, I’ve heard many a self-published writer proclaim that computer spell/grammar checkers like this one on Word or Grammarly are reliable guides to good writing. Clearly, both lack that expertise in even the limited things they do. Neither recognized the word “wont” in the first sentence of this blog as the correct spelling used properly in the context.

 

Elements of Style advocates for an economy of words makes good writing. I agree with that as a personal preference. Nonetheless, it’s hard to argue that wordy writers Dumas and Ulysses don’t cut it as writers. I mean when your books become classics of literature, you must be doing something right.

 

Some sources say the physical characteristics, lifestyle preferences, and political ideology of the author and the characters constitute good writing. I read a review written by an editor/critic who pronounced a novel as an exceptional bit of writing. The sole basis given for the rating was that “there was not a white face or straight person anywhere”. Is that really all it takes?


The answer to that question dovetails nicely with the answer to the original. What constitutes good writing? Readers do. Some might prefer a book with no white or straight characters. Few today would dare admit to bypassing a book for that reason. They might indeed bypass it but would never admit that was the reason.


The bottom line is that if readers enjoy your book, you’ve done well. You don’t have to become famous or famously rich from writing to be good at it. One of our authors was a little disappointed when his book got a three-star review. The reviewer said it was slow going for the first two chapters, but overall, they liked the book. I pointed out that I considered the review golden. It was honest, accurate, encouraged future readers to be patient, and they liked the book. If they like the book, it’s a job well done.


Jack LaFountain



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