It seems that nowadays, everyone is talking about how to be a good writer. Well, they have good reason for doing such things. I think about it all the time, actually. What can I do to make that sentence better? How can I improve my writing? How can I improve my characters?
However, I feel that some of this can be slightly opinion based. I think that in order to find out what we need to better ourselves as writers, we need to figure out what exactly makes us bad writers. Well, here is my opinion when it comes to what I think is good, and/or bad writing.
#1: Punctuation – Obviously, punctuation is one of the basic, fundamental first steps to being a good writer. If you can’t use a comma or semi-colon correctly, you certainly won’t be viewed as a good writer to the public eye. Especially to my public eyes. If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s run-on sentences, and the overuse of the word “and” in a sentence. It’s unnecessary.
#2: Character Development – This is probably what makes or breaks a novel. Character development helps the reader to see growth and change, and whether or not it is relates to the reader, well, depends on the reader. But, readers love to see a character overcome their own flaws and demons to make themselves better, and to better the lives of their friends, and/or family.
#3: Sentence Structure – For me, sentence structure falls a little low on my chart of what I think makes writing good. Certainly, a writer needs to be able to weave the language and words in a way that is appealing to the reader. However, in some cases, as long as the overall message in is conveyed, I don’t see any harm in a writer not having perfect structure.
#4: Story Telling – Storytelling goes, essentially, hand in hand with character development. Readers want a compelling story that takes them on a journey they wouldn’t otherwise be able to go on. Probably the biggest example of story telling I can think of would be The Lord of the Rings. Epic adventure, epic heroes, and good versus evil. Taking an entire chapter just to describe a mountain, I would certainly classify that as epic. However, I did read an article about Tolkien, where he was denied a writing award (the name of it fails me at the moment), because of poor prose. So, I suppose that’s where sentence structure comes in. Just because you can tell a great story, doesn’t make you a good writer.
What do you identify to be bad writing? Do you think finding out what makes bad writing makes you a stronger writer? Or do you only look for examples of good writing?