Course Content
Chapter 3: Writing Mechanics Help
Chapter 12: Teaching Writing
Chapter 23: Teaching Reading
College English Composition: Help and Review
About Lesson

What Makes a Good Writer?

The strengths of a good writer are being able to formulate an opinion or argument about a topic and communicate those thoughts or ideas into an effective piece of writing. To ensure that their writing is effective, good writers can start with a clear thesis that shows they have an interesting point of view on a topic, following this up with supporting points and examples backed by credible research. Even when using other sources, the writer’s style and voice should be consistent throughout so that the reader can understand a little about the writer’s personality. When the reader can know a little about the writer’s profile or experience, it will be easier for the reader to connect and find meaning in the writer’s words.

What is Good Writing?

The core of a good piece of writing is a great idea. With a strong core idea, the writer can easily layer the content around it. Content includes interesting examples to which the reader can relate. That content needs to be well-organized and clear in form so that the reader can easily see the message or find the intended meaning. In addition, the writing should have style and the right voice that matches its topic and theme while also reflecting what the author believes. To ensure that the writing does not fall flat, it needs to have the correct mechanics; the writer should use proper spelling, punctuation, and grammar. The following will go more into these characteristics of good writing.

Research goes hand in hand with writing.

A person with a computer and books

Great Ideas for Content

A piece of writing without quality content is like a plate of bad food served to a hungry guest. If the writer has trouble filling the piece with good content, brainstorming and researching may help get the writing process flowing.

A writer must follow up the main idea with accompanying sub-ideas and examples; these are like the tasty side dishes to the main course. All of that content needs to be offered from an interesting angle with an appealing, well-formed presentation. The reader can consider the thesis as the appetizer that is served first to whet the reader’s attention and make them want more. After reading the conclusion of the piece of writing, the reader should feel satisfied with the content they have read, kind of like the feeling of finishing off with a nice drink that brings everything together.

Specific Examples

A good piece of writing needs an original idea presented in an interesting argument supported by specific examples. Research can give a writer avenues to open up sub-ideas that can flow with relatable examples for the reader. For example, if the original idea is to build a flower garden in the middle of a busy city, the writer might have an interesting idea and decide to present that in the piece. Then the writer must include a strong argument as to why the idea is important, followed by concrete examples to support it. The writer might need to do some research with keywords such as urban gardens and flower therapy. If a writer can give supporting examples of how flowers can help heal a polluted environment and reduce human stress, then the reader will be able to see the writer’s point of view and be more likely to agree with the writer.

Organization and Clarity

A good piece of writing has a clear and proper form. It must have an organization of ideas that makes sense and has a good flow from the introduction to its conclusion, with each sentence and paragraph transitioning logically to the next. This structure allows the main topic and subtopics to be interconnected and unified rather than disjointed.

One way to ensure an organized format and good flow is to start with an outline. The outline should present the main topic and thesis in the introduction. Think of the introductory paragraph as the head and the thesis as the heart of the work. The middle paragraphs should consist of multiple subtopics; these are the body paragraphs and must be connected to the head topic and recirculate back to the main argument. It should end with a conclusion that firmly holds the body and head up by summarizing the subtopics and restating the main argument.

Style and Voice

Style refers to the writer’s word choice and sentence structure. If someone wants to write an academic paper, that person will need to use higher-level vocabulary that is appropriate to the subject matter and write in a formal tone. Longer sentences can also indicate a more mature or sophisticated voice than shorter sentences. However, shorter sentences are more effective at making a point clearly, highlighting specific details, or summarizing important information. Therefore, mixing longer sentences and shorter sentences within each paragraph is more interesting and effective. Voice refers to how the choice of words mixes with the tone, emotion, and character. A writer’s voice might belong to the writer or a created fictional character in creative writing. The vocabulary and the way the writer or character talks will give more meaning to the piece.

The trick of style and voice is to be consistent so that the reader can feel that they understand the writer or character more as they continue to read. Another trick is to avoid using the passive voice; an example of the passive voice is the following sentence: ”The book was finished being written by the survivor.” This sentence in the active voice would be the following: ”The survivor finished writing the book.” The active voice is better at pulling readers into your work and holding their attention.

Proper Spelling, Punctuation, and Grammar

A good piece of writing will have no spelling, punctuation, or grammar mistakes. Language errors weaken the writing quality and can obstruct the writer’s message, meaning that the reader might misunderstand the writer’s information.

Errors and mistakes are also distracting and can break the flow of reading, making it less enjoyable for the reader. Having proper spelling, punctuation, and grammar will also give authority or credibility to the writer’s arguments. The only exception is if the mistake is intentional, such as when a writer gives an example of a mistake or if the error occurs in a quote from a character or narrator who speaks or narrates using mistaken language.

Good Writing Examples

If someone wishes to become a good writer, it is helpful for that individual to read and gain inspiration from good writing. A good writer often uses adjectives without excess to allow the reader an immersive experience of what is happening in the writing. J.K.Rowling is one such example of a good writer. Her writing lets her readers see the story: ”Twilight fell: the sky turned to a light, dusky purple littered with tiny silver stars.”

Good writing also captures genuine emotions and thoughts so that the reader feels what you or the character does. The author Stephen King excels in this aspect of writing. He allows the reader to feel the story: ”We all float down here…” Good writing can make words on paper or a screen a multi-sensory experience.

Editing Checklist for Writers

A good writer is also a good editor. Before submitting a piece of writing, a writer should always self-edit. Here is a quick checklist to help determine if a piece of writing is complete and effective:

  1. There is a good idea, main topic, thesis, or argument that is understood from the introduction.
  2. There is an interesting angle or viewpoint.
  3. There are multiple sub-ideas that all support the main idea.
  4. The overall content is of good quality.
  5. The writer’s style or voice is consistent throughout.
  6. The research was done using credible sources.
  7. There are concrete examples that readers can relate to, supporting the main idea.
  8. The organization is clear; there is unity and flow of form from beginning to end.
  9. There are no problems in mechanics (spelling, punctuation, grammar).
  10. There has been sufficient self-editing that makes the writer feel the work is ready to submit.

Lesson Summary

What makes a good writer? The starting point is a great idea. A good writer will brainstorm and do research to make sure they have a great idea. What do good writers do next? They think of an interesting angle and formulate an original thesis that shows their point of view. Their point of view will be supported by specific examples from their research or personal experience. Other strengths of a good writer are self-editing and re-writing to make sure their writing is mistake-free in spelling, punctuation, and grammar to prevent weak and distracting writing.

What is good writing? There are many characteristics of good writing, starting with quality content that is unified. Unity of content and form means the organization reflects the meaning of your work. In other words, all of the sub-ideas, points, and examples support the main idea and flow well throughout all of the paragraphs. A good piece of writing has a consistent style and voice that is informative and engaging, allowing the reader to understand the topic from the writer’s perspective.

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