As I announced last week, I’m starting an occasional series on writing well. Many thanks to all who have provided some great responses to my requests for topic suggestions.
After thinking through your many helpful suggestions, I’ve decided to organize upcoming posts according to what I’ve identified as five pillars of good writing: clarity, brevity, vitality, elegance, and style.
Clarity: The primary things that undergird clear writing are clear thinking, organization, and good grammar.
Brevity: Brevity means making sure that every word matters.
Vitality: Vital writing relies on vivid words, especially verbs, and fresh figures of speech.
Elegance: Elegant writing has a rhythm. The premier tools of elegance are parallelism and modifiers that provide emphasis.
Style: Style is personal, and lets the writer’s personality shine through his mastery of the basics of good writing.
Please continue to request topics and ask questions. I hope you find this series helpful.
For two decades, I worked at political jobs. Then my parents got sick, and I went home to help care for them, and they died, fourteen weeks apart, in their late 60s. And I decided that life is too dear, and too uncertain, to fritter away in political offices. I fought back the sorrow with travel, and started this blog. I believe that passions are more fun when you share them with others, and my hope is to share my passions for travel and culture with you. Welcome! Read more …
I’m trying to improve my writing. I’m not the most engaging of writers and whenever I find someone who can write engagingly and humorously I feel quite inadequate. I want people to enjoy reading my posts and not feel like it’s a chore. I want them to find it entertaining. So I’m looking forward to reading your series. Thanks for the tips!
Hi, Alex, thanks for your comment. Writing well is a craft that you can learn and continually improve. I know it can be discouraging to compare yourself with others, so my advice is: Don’t do that! I am convinced that the best way to learn how to write is to read, so I would encourage you to read as much as you can. If you read a passage that strikes you as especially good, don’t think, “I could never write that well.” Instead, ask yourself, “What makes this passage so good? How did the writer do that? How can I apply that to my own writing, in my own style?”
Love anything that encourages people to write well and express themselves clearly. Thanks for this series. As lit. major and teacher, it’s hard to turn my ‘editing’ mind off when I’m reading. I cringe at my own typos, and run for cover when I find them. Writing well is something we never get perfectly right, alas.
Thanks, Nancy, much as I sometimes wish I could, I can’t help but note the typos when I’m reading; they leap off the page at me.
I am very appreciative of those who write well, and focus on it. I read some posts and they make me cringe. Your post was clear, precise, and informative. Thank you.
Thank you, Sande, I cringe too at some posts.
Looking forward to reading and learning more about writing..
Thanks, Leslie! Please keep this series coming. I can use your help and am grateful for it.
I look forward to it…
I did a similar exercise last year, comparing the craft of writing to honing a diamond.