Friday, December 08, 2006

Good Writing/Bad Writing?

During the NWG meeting on Wednesday, we hit on an interesting question. Are there objective measures for good or bad writing? Or does “good/bad” rest solely in the mind of the reader?

Many people argue that good writing must display good punctuation and grammar. As a counterpoint, I offer Charles Frazier’s Cold Mountain, a National Book Award winner, which eschewed quotation marks. (It was adapted into a so-so movie, although Rene Zellweger did get nominated for an Oscar).

I nominate clarity. I want a writer who communicates her message clearly. Try this: In one or two sentences, describe your favorite books or movies (scriptwriters will recognize this as a log line.) When we grasp ideas clearly, that’s when they resonate… Of course, not everyone grasps information the same way. Dang! That puts us back at subjectivity.

What do you think? What are your personal measures for good or bad writing? What steps do you take with your own work to bring it up to your standards?

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