For those of us who are writers, what are some of the things that makes for a good piece? I know everyone can write, but I know very little of good writers. I believe we need to identify those things that result in a good piece.
First off, why do we write? Or put another way, why do people read?
Writers should themselves be readers, right? So why do they read? And by that I mean, why decide to read anything?
All writing exists before a single word is put on paper. Writers should be, as it were, daydreamers. Having joined several writing contests, I’ve come to realize that writing is more. More than just constructing sentences; its more than just telling a story. It’s about telling compelling stories.
Back in high school we wrote compositions. And back then we wrote unrealistic pieces and everybody was fine with everybody’s piece. But then we came into the real world. High school passing pieces became less interesting.
In the world of writing, grammatical consciousness is a non-negotiable. But clarity and simplicity are by far the stiffest non-negotiable.
I’ve read and listened to people and thought to myself, everyone does have a story. Though there are cases of language mutilation, but all have a story. The only thing is then, how do we communicate ours stories? How should we put sentences together to make compelling storylines?
Beginning with “catching the reader’s spell-bound” with our topics to ravishing the reading appetites. Not to be too critical, I’ve seen even on newspapers stories that are not stories. Know what I mean? Stories written to occupy the blank spaces on the paper, that nobody likes. How do I know that? I’ve joined contest and comments from editors that raised such awareness. There is such a thing as writing for the sake of it.
From PLI’s Treatise on Thinking Like a Writer: A Lawyer’s Guide to Effective Writing and Editing:
As a writer, your goal is not just to create logic in your material. It is also to create coherence—the perception of focus and organization—in your readers’ minds. A coherent document has to be logical, but it also has to be much more. To approach this second goal, begin by seeing your document from your readers’ perspective. To you, it is a finished product that you can grasp as a whole. For them, as they are reading it, the document as a whole never exists. At any one point, they will remember only a few sentences, if that, in relatively precise form. What has gone before will have been winnowed and compressed to fit into their memory, and what lies ahead is largely a mystery.
Yeah, those stories that nobody likes have not one of the above features. Oft-repeated times, new writers pay less attention to the aspects of readers’ perspective. For instance, it is very important to assume the reader’s liking before composing any piece.
Try to understand your audience and tailor your efforts towards that. Ever heard of waffling? It means using many unnecessary words in making a point. So this is common in many writings. Whether it’s just a matter of reaching a specific number of words or not it is unclear.
This is where the idea of concise precision comes in. Writers should be definite in their pieces. This will help with the digestion of the information and free flow of ideas and/or communication. There is therefore, no point in drafting a long strenuou pieces that no one really likes for the sake of publishing. Know what people like and provide just that. Then bingo, you have succeeded as a writer.
According to PLI’s treatise,
“When you write a document, therefore, you are organizing a complex process: the flow of information through your readers’ minds. In fact, they are trying to cope with two flows at once: the page-by-page progression of large-scale themes, ideas, and over-arching syllogisms, and the sentence-by-sentence stream of details. In the face of this onslaught, they do not remain passive. They read actively, although much of the action happens in split seconds and never reaches full consciousness. At each moment, they are deciding how much of what they just read they need to remember, figuring out how the next sentence connects with the previous ones, and forecasting where the analysis is heading.”
To help readers through this process, writers have to create a clarity based not just on logic, but also on how a reader’s mind deals with complicated information.