I ve heard randomly of remarks used to explain why a writing style is bad. for instance by the argument that a writing style is bad because of the usage of adjectives.

Could you provide further examples of those frequentively used arguments for bad style?


3 Answers 3


Written dialogue is a good indicator of the overall quality of the story. Each character should have their own unique voice. For example, a poorly educated laborer is going to have a much different speaking style than a college educated banker. A child is going to also be much more naïve than an adult. It is more difficult to have believable dialogue coming from a child, than an adult because their way of thinking is much different.

When you read a fictional story, you should be able to imagine what is going on. You should have a clear understanding of the setting, and the events going on. The character's dialogue and actions should be clear, etc. Some of the best writing uses subtle hints about things rather than just revealing them.

Poorly written: It was hot out in the field, the temperature was over 100 degrees. The farmers were sweaty.

A little better: Sweat poured off of the men as they labored in the field. Their straw hats did little to block the rays of the scorching sun.

The best writers can make you feel like you are there, and can do much better than my little sample.


Well, of course this is a bit subjective, because there is always someone who likes a particular style. Although, it may only be the author's mother. :D

However, if you are interested in common expectations in the publication world, then you most likely want to check out a book like the wonderful The First 5 Pages, by Noah Lukeman -- amazon.com link.

It gives you a great idea in a short package about what makes fiction writing very good.

Here are a few other tips.

Show Don't Tell


He felt sad that he had been rejected by the beautiful woman.


Stanley looked up at the beautiful red-head standing in front of him.

"Would...would...would you like to go out for a drink, Margaret?"

Margaret wrinkled her nose as if she smelled something bad. "Uh, you're just not my type, Stanley." She scurried over to the office printer and made herself look busy.

Stanley let his shoulders fall and he slouched over as he scuffled back to his desk. He sat down in his chair and dropped his head to his desk and sniffed as a tear formed in his eye.

Use more exposition -- describing things as they happen in front of the reader

than you use narrative -- telling the reader what happened.

For more details, you can also check out Fiction Writing Gems at amazon.com I've taken numerous published books, broken them down and explained why they do and do not work.

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    "Show don't tell" also applies to screenplays as well. If there is a long narrative in the beginning of a film, or during it, then you know that it is poorly written. If you want an example of this, watch Stanley Kubrick's The Killing and you will see exactly what I mean. Commented Nov 6, 2014 at 20:55

My rule of thumb comes from Elmore Leonard: "If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it." To me, this means that, as a reader, I'm experiencing the story, and not the writing. This might seem vague, but it helps me avoid writerly cliches and too much incidental blah-blah that distracts from the story.

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