Posts Tagged ‘ee cummings’

What makes writing good?

What makes a book feel like a friend? Or a news article share-worthy? Or a story cause you to take action?

what makes good writing

I was asked what makes writing good in an interview last year, and here’s how I responded:

Great thoughts. Anyone can slap words on paper (or clink them out keyboard), but good writing materializes with the infusion of creative, authentic ideas. Writers paint with words, using a palette of verbs and nouns. When they get it right, they gift readers with power-punch phrases, such as this beauty from the September 2012 Real Simple magazine: “My ratio of tra-la-la to ay-yi-yi shifted noticeably.”

Since then, I’ve thought about the great thoughts and good writing in my life. I’m always paying attention: the plastic wrapping on my fruit leather, tweets from standout writers, and billboards I pass on my way to work. Words are everywhere. What makes some combinations more powerful than others?

Good writing resonates. It touches a piece of my soul, often connects me to something greater and inspires makes me want to act or think new thoughts.

Today I saw a tweet by Steve Martin (I heart him!) that led me to this interview. The phrase “the most beautiful words ever written” caught my eye:

Martin: I was always a huge fan of ee cummings. He did a series of lectures at Harvard or Princeton, and they were recorded. And they were incredibly moving. He does this long anecdote, and then he says, “To me, these are the most beautiful words ever written in the English language.” Suddenly you’re really listening. “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” I thought about that a lot. It’s like when you listen to a comedian, you think, “Well, what is your life?”

As the Three Amigos comedian alludes: We need writing that moves us, inspires us. Words grant us more than means of mere communication. They are the medium by which we define our lives.

Now it’s your turn: What makes writing good?