What makes good writing “good” and drives us to finish a thousand-page novel?
What is the difference between good writing and bad writing?
There are many differences between good writing and bad writing, but some are not as obvious as others. I’ve read articles and stories and opinions posted online from both sides of the aisle that really grab me and almost force me to read to the end. Not because I necessarily care about the issue, but because the flow and feel of the piece really makes me want to continue.
On the other hand, I have read my fair share of articles that compel me to zone out or leave, and sometimes persuade me to side with their opposition. Is it because their positions, facts, data or ideas are wrong? No. But rather, it’s the way the writing makes me feel as I read.
Anybody can write “Orphanage Burned” and make you feel sad. We look at the headline, then move on.
But what will actually get you to read the rest of the article? What will inspire you to action? It’s good writing that will do that.
We have graduated from self-help books to self-help Youtube tutorials. And nowhere have I seen this behavior more prevalent than in online writing.
One reason this is true, I believe, is because online writing is so accessible. You can’t just decide one afternoon to bake a six-layer cake. But finding a how-to guide on how to write effectively and throwing up a “how to solve world hunger” article takes all of five minutes. I don’t know about you, but it is obvious to me when someone has just left the “how to write good and how to do other things good too” school.
Is there a common ingredient in good online articles that separate them from the trash?
It all comes down to our voice, which is something online writers miss when they think they’ve ‘made it’. It doesn’t have to do with grammar or the size of your vocabulary. What most “bad” writers all have in common is that they’ve all abandoned their own voice and instead try to imitate the self-help guide.
The difference between good writing and bad writing is that good writers pour their heart into their work, and as a result, we can connect with them. Bad writers fret over the best word choice, sentence composition, the balance of compound and simple sentences, even how the article “looks” online. Do all these things help? Of course, but I’ve noticed they are more often used to compensate for the fact the author has no voice of their own.
I think we check out of so many articles online because we can tell that they are copy-pasted from somewhere else; it doesn’t engage our mind or our heart. On the other hand, others will draw us in and refuse to let us go because the author toiled over how to make the piece theirs.
Don’t feel bad when someone criticizes books you like to read or the articles you find entertaining or engaging. They are good for a reason, and that reason is not something you can quantify or measure. You relate to it, you invest in it. Don’t judge the quality of an article, or a book, based solely on the skill of the author’s writing.
(Originally shared on The Latest: https://thelatest.com/tlt/5988)
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