The Craft of Writing Overview

by Kris
(Florida)

Question: What is the most basic and descriptive, but brief descriptions of the craft of writing? I feel like I'm always missing something because it always goes right over my head.


Answer: You realize that's a bit like asking, "What is the meaning of life? Answer in 10 words or less." People have been debating the craft of writing since at least the days of ancient Greece. And if you ask ten writers today what good writing is, you will get ten differenct answers.

Part of the reason is differences in taste. A newspaper editor looks for different things than a literature professor. And an advertising executive will have another set of priorities.

Of course, there is some common ground. Most people will agree that good writing is about the clear expression of ideas and stories that connects with the reader and takes him or her on a unique emotional and intellectual journey. It is interesting enough to keep the reader on the path, and it leads to a meaningful destination.

However, there are many different ways to construct that journey. Some people favour the emotional journey over the intellectual. Others are the opposite. And some weigh style as much as substance.

Some people think the craft of writing is all about grammar and rules of prose. Others care more about structure or crafting a unique voice or message.

Dramatica theory suggests that good stories are attempts to convey human experience and wisdom regarding the best approaches and methods for coping with problems, challenges, and imbalances in the world and the human psyche.

Alexander Pope, to take another example, said that good writing was, "Nature to advantage dressed: What oft was thought but ne'er so well expressed."

Another definition is that good writing is both "precise and concise."

But any brief definition will leave out some element that some think is important. The only thing you can say for certain is that good writing is writing that both you and your reader think is good.

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