Seven Ingredients of Good Writing

1. Brevity: “I would have written you a shorter letter, but I didn’t have the Good Writingtime.” (Attributed to Mark Twain)

Take the trouble to write short.  Save trees.

 2. Clarity:  Don’t be cute.  What is your article about?  Be direct.  Get right to the point in simple, clear language.  Watch unclear pronoun references.

3. Precision: Use precise words.  They are more interesting.

  •  Some people are after me.
  • or
  • Three angry writers have threatened to modem seven hundred viruses into my computer.

 4. Harmony:  Words are music.  Read your work out loud.  Listen for sour musicnotes.  Use a variety of sentence lengths.  All the same lengths drone on.

5. Humanity: Don’t write about the crisis in forestry.  Write about the struggling environmentalists or the struggling loggers.  Don’t talk about the crisis in fishing on the east coast.  Talk about a specific fisher from Newfoundland.  People are interested in people.

Be Yourself6. Honesty: Be yourself.  Don’t use fancy words you would not use in your speech.  Try as best you can to get down on the paper what’s in your mind.

7. Poetry: Be ever ready to lead your reader to a deeper level of human understanding by the use of an anecdote, a figure of speech, a precise word.

(Adapted from The Seven Beacons of Excellent Writing by Gary Provost, Writer’s Digest, March 1984.)

 Images courtesy of:

  •   music
  •  good write
  •  be self

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