Good writing should enhance the experience of the reader by imparting knowledge, telling a story or otherwise sharing an experience. Writers create their art using a multitude of different styles and techniques but the best writing generally shares certain characteristics, notably:
1. Identify your Audience. Determine at the outset who is going to read your writing. Tailor your writing to that audience and use their language. What do your readers need to know? What do you want them to do? What experience do you want your writing to give them?
Create empathy with your reader. Communicate why they should read your writing – clearly, identify what’s in it for them?
2. Be Fresh. Give your subject matter a fresh point of view and, if at all possible, cover some out-of-the-ordinary subject matter. Be creative in your writing. Strive for the best and strongest use of English and the most original and powerful metaphors and similes. Think of original language that will get through better to the reader.
3. Be Easy to Read. Ask yourself at the outset: What are you trying to say? Then say it as briefly, specifically and clearly as you can. Be down to earth. Don’t talk in abstractions.
4. Be Personal. Take the personal approach. Be yourself and sound like a real person. Avoid management speak, padding, jargon and buzz words.
To stand out from the crowd, your writing must have a personal voice and point of view. Remember that many subjects you may want to write about will already have been written about before. Your challenge is to find something new and original to say.
5. Be Funny. Good writing is often light, bright, lively, and written in a fun tone. Incorporate comedy into your writing where appropriate and don’t be afraid to make your readers laugh. Also don’t be afraid to incorporate mishaps into your pieces. These can be just as worth reading about, maybe more so, particularly if they also incorporate an element of comedy or humour.
6. Be Surprising. Surprise your reader. Provide something out of the ordinary; something that only someone who has experienced what you are writing about would know.
7. Be a Quote. Use quotes in your writing where relevant. Quotes often lift stories more than reported speech.
This has been a brief opening but it’s a vitally important one. Think of these principles as your ideal state of mind every time you write. I recommend you return to this article from time to time to reinforce these principles in your mind and fast-track your progress. If you can master these few concepts, and make them your default mind state when writing, you will be a good writer. You couldn’t be.