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This seems like a vague question but it is not. What is good writing?

Does it have simply be concise and clear? Obviously, not. Writing that sounds beautiful is considered good writing? But, what is beautiful writing? That is a hard question. It could be writing in which words are put together in a different way than before but means the same thing. It could be a way to write that makes you feel very emotionally as it triggers certain memories.

The natural corollary to this question is then how do you become a good writer? How do you learn how to do the above?

I wrote a similar question to this before and I think the answers were wrong. By presenting the question in this fashion, I think people will realize that the answer is not simply writing more or reading more. There is something else to it.

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  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – F1Krazy
    Commented Oct 20, 2020 at 13:20

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To begin with, writing is a form of communication. The writer has something to say. The written word conveys that meaning. The reader processes the message by reading the words. All three elements, writer, words, and reader, must be in place for the communication to take place.

I believe that the focus of "good" writing must be on the reader. The writer must craft the words to deliver the message to that reader. Readers come in all sizes and varieties. They speak different languages, have different needs, and have different standards. What passes for good writing for one audience is passed over as rubbish by a different audience. An academic expects a particular style and structure. An engineer another. A romance reader still another. None of these audiences are more right (or wrong) than the others.

Thus, it is less useful to think about what makes an assemblage of words "good" or "bad" or anything else. It is, however, useful to select a target audience and determine what that audience expects. To a large extent, the readers of an audience expect something similar to what they are already reading, in terms of structure, content, pacing, and the like. The obvious way to learn their expectations is to read the material that they are reading, analyze the patterns in the material, and produce something that will be familiar. Good writing is then writing that fulfills the expectations of the reader.

There is still a lot of wiggle room left, once the writer has learned the patterns. The voice of the author -- the vocabulary used, the detailed patterns of sentences and paragraphs, and the use of humor and cultural references -- adds a specific patina. Note that a little of this sort of thing goes a long way. Most readers want the communication and are unwilling to plow through verbiage that gets in the way.

To address the final part of the question, I cannot answer unless I know what audience the question has in mind.

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Depends who is the judge of 'good' writing.

A general consensus would say that it is clear concise and complete while using language the audience is familiar with, and which is expressed in good grammar as commonly used by the audience not necessarily some university English department's Dean for graduate admissions.

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