The Heck Is Good Writing, Anyway?

Good writing, in general, is based on one fundament, and that is effective communication. Yes, there are many other things that influence “good” writing, but honestly, it always comes down to whether or not you’re effective at communicating with your audience, and whether you are able to articulate yourself in a way that clearly indicates your intention to others. Now, here’s the thing, effective communication is not a superficial quality to possess. It’s actually a legitimate skill that is perfected over time. It is also a skill you can learn if you don’t have it. It’s never too late to do so.

Have you ever found yourself unable to continuously work on a story or essay because you can’t seem to articulate yourself well on the page? It’s happened to the best of us at some point or another, so you’re not alone. Through this post, I want to introduce you to some concepts that, if you learn, apply, and manipulate, will enhance your writing tenfold – fiction or non-fiction, doesn’t matter.

All effective communication starts with a purpose and an intention. That means that you have a point in mind, and you want to relay it.

The next quality effective communication must possess is reasoning and reasonability, or logic. If you have point, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good one. To make it a good one, you must justify it with logic. Even if it’s logic that appeals to the audience’s emotions rather than their practicality, it comes from a fact-based place—there is evidence to support what you’re saying—so it makes you believable and credible. Enhance your logic by explaining, or simply keeping in mind where fiction is concerned, the core benefits that your reasoning will have on your audience. If your audience is sold on the advantages that your point has to them by the time you’re done making your point, you’re good to go.

The third and fourth traits are skills that usually practical people possess more than prominently creative ones – formality and technique. There is a way to speak/write that is appropriate for certain audiences, and inappropriate for others. Understanding how to adapt to your audience and manipulate your speech—being formal or casual, or speaking in slang versus speaking eloquently (eloquently, here, simply means in complete sentences with great grammar)—in order to get through to your specific audience is key to how you are received by them. Always remember, though, not to lose your unique touch, your individual style, while you apply these techniques.

This next one comes naturally to most creative writers and those who are good liars. It is language manipulation. To some extent, this relates to “technique” above, but what makes language manipulation its own concept is the creativity of it in contrast to the unemotional approach of technique. Good liars are clever with language manipulation; sometimes they don’t even have to lie – they just form the wording or phrasing of a lie to make it sound like they told you the truth, when their answer is actually open to various translations. Understanding this is to understand the many implications of phrases and words. Using elements like sarcasm, irony, and metaphors can often aid in the subtle manipulation of one’s language. It’s a good skill to have… for various reasons.

The sixth quality is pace. Speak in a tone that asserts a level of authority, and a tempo that lets the audience not just hear, but comprehend your argument/point. Learn to incorporate pregnant pauses—infrequently, but at the perfect intervals—to drive in your point or let it sink in. Your audience must have a chance to digest what you’re saying, otherwise they’ll lose the intention of the point in the jumble of words you’re merely throwing at them. Respect the reader/listener enough to give them those one or two moments when it really counts; it makes you seem less temper-driven and more reasonable, mature even. Again, this is a skill you can study, practice, and master over time.

The final quality of effective communication is brevity. No one, and I mean, no one wants to listen (or read, I know) to something that endlessly goes on and on on a tangent – especially if it’s repetitive. We want to know the main points of things, and move on with our lives. So, remember to stick to the point, and don’t get carried away.

On a conclusive note, let’s take a minute to celebrate the fantastic thing about fiction, that it allows you to manipulate not just words, but truths. Celebrate the depth of fiction by writing some today, right now. Just a paragraph, or maybe a page. Write something, anything. Lie away, and let it take hold of your reality with a tight grasp. Then let it fade away, let it fade away.

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