Monday, April 21, 2014

What Makes Writing Great?


What is the secret to great writing?

Practice?

Tight writing?

Good editing?

Engaging prose?

A heart full of ideas?

An active imagination?

Smart critique partners?

A flair for putting the right words together?



I believe it takes a friendly, liberal blend of these ingredients to produce great writing. While individuals might differ in their opinions, one element remains constant. We must engage the reader.

Perhaps poet Matthew Arnold had the right idea when he said,

"Have something to say, and say it as clearly as you can. That is the only secret."

Writing for ourselves is a wonderful - even therapeutic, activity.  Most writers, myself included, would still write if no one ever read our work. However, if we desire to reach others, to be published, it is crucial to provide reader appeal. Easier said than done, but doable with patience and a healthy combination of the elements listed above.

A Spring Contest

Want to practice some great writing? Check out the 83rd Annual Writer's Digest Competition. WD is offering great prizes with categories that include fiction, non fiction, children, poetry, inspirational, and more. Early entry deadline is May 5, 2014. Find details here.


A Break

I'll be taking a break until May 11, 2014 as I need to work on my next book, do some spring cleaning, and just take a breather. See you soon!


Do you agree with Mr. Arnold? Would you add any items to the list above? What are your secrets to great writing?

Happy writing,
Karen


Photo credit: Stock Exchange


43 comments :

  1. Loved the quote by Matthew Arnold.And have a great break.

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  2. Hi Karen,
    Hope you have a relaxing and productive break.

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  3. Enjoy your time away and thanks for the thoughts to ponder about what makes writing great!

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  4. I hope you complete your book and all your chores.

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  5. It's the simplest advice that is the best, yet the hardest to follow. Enjoy your break.

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  6. All of the above.
    Enjoy your break! Good time for one.

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  7. Hi Karen! Happy break, and best of blessings on your new book.
    I do think clarity of idea is key to good writing. If I am unsure where I stand in my story, I know my reader will be too! Thanks for the heads up on the RD writing contest!
    Blessings,
    Ceil

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  8. Natalie,
    I enjoyed it too. I believe he's on to something! :)

    Donna,
    Thanks so much! :)

    Robin,
    Thank you! I was thinking about revisiting these points, maybe over the summer to get more input from everyone. :)

    Diane,
    I hope so too, at least a good many of them. Thanks! :)

    Lee,
    Oh you are so right! Always working on that one, that's for sure! :)

    Alex,
    Yes, I'm with you. There are many pieces to the puzzle. Thank you! :)

    Ceil,
    Thanks so much. :) I agree - clarity is key. If we cannot effectively communicate, then where are we, right?

    Happy writing,
    Karen

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  9. All of the above :) and lots of practice of course. Enjoy the break, happy writing!

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  10. I find I write best when I'm feeling enthusiastic. Not something I can control, but I try to make the best of it when it's there.

    mood
    Moody Writing

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  11. I like that quote! So true.

    And a 'next book?' Do tell! I'm all ears. Yea, you! :D

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  12. Marja,
    Practice is probably one of the biggest items, don't you think? Thanks a bunch! :)

    Mood,
    Now there's a good point. Enthusiasm and inspiration are big contributors, that's for sure! :)

    Rhonda,
    I like it too. And it's right to the point. lol I am compiling a book of writing lessons for teens. And am running way behind schedule on it, hence the break! :)

    Happy writing,
    Karen

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  13. Enjoy your break! I think good writing must be easily understood writing, and writing that takes you out of your life to some new place:)

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  14. I'm still flabbergasted when I pick up a book out of a big chain bookstore, read the first page, and find myself wondering "How this guy get published?" Great post, Karen.

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  15. Terri,
    Thank you! :) You are so right, well said!

    Joylene,
    I know, I've thought the same thing! And this is another reason why I appreciate good crit partners. :) And all of the above as well!


    Happy writing,
    Karen

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  16. I agree with you that it is a blend of different factors that makes writing great. Definitely we need to reach and connect with the reader. :) Saying what we need to say as clearly as we can is excellent advice.

    Have a wonderful blog break. Hope you get everything done that you want to during this time!
    Jess

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  17. Hi Karen - enjoy that break and good luck with the Spring Cleaning ... I'm sure all of those ideas go into good writing .. but it's finding your uniqueness or voice that appeals to readers who thus support and encourage you, while you pursue your goals ... tapping into the professional writing friends around you ..

    Good luck with your writing .. and then that exercise ... cheers Hilary

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  18. Jess,
    Thanks so much! Hoping to get a lot accomplished while keeping those interruptions at bay. :)

    Hilary,
    Thank you! :) You are so right about our writer's voice. That's a great point and one that is so true. We can give and get so much from the writing community, can't we?

    Enjoy the week,
    Karen

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  19. Wise woman, taking a break. I'm going to too...or at least I'll drop back to blogging Wednesdays only after the month is over.

    I think great writing really only takes one thing, because if you have it, everything else will follow: desire. =)

    True Heroes from A to Z

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  20. Crystal,
    Well, I am about fried and need a break, as I am sure you about are after your blog tour and now A to Z. Rest is a good thing, I'm thinking. :)

    Nas,
    Thank you! Appreciate you coming by! :)

    Happy writing,
    Karen

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  21. A combination of all of those things makes for great writing. I'd also add thick skin, humility, and the willingness to grow (i.e. change) in your craft. :-)

    Enjoy your break. You deserve it! Hope you had a joyous Easter.

    ~Janette

    P.S. See? Told ya I wouldn't forget about you guys despite taking an extended break from blogging. ;-)

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  22. You've nailed several important points, Karen. Having something to say is paramount. Enjoy your break - cleaning is so satisfying and working on the next book is challenging. You go, girl!

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  23. Janette,
    Good to see you! Hope all is going well for you. :) I knew you'd be around, of that I had no doubt! I like your additions to the list. They are indeed very important.

    Susan,
    Thanks so much! Yes, hoping to get to some of that cleaning very soon. :)

    Happy weekend,
    Karen

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  24. Love Mr. Arnold's quote. Simple and precise for sure!

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  25. Thanks for all the great tips. Have fun writing.

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  26. Diane,
    I agree, it is a winner! :)

    Lilith,
    You are welcome, Thanks so much! :)

    Happy weekend,
    Karen

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  27. It's funny. I was talking to some writers and we were pondering this. In some instances in popular books, you don't necessarily have "great" writing but still an ability to express yourself and your characters well.

    Have a great break!

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  28. I agree with all of the above.

    Have a wonderful, productive break.

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  29. Jennifer,
    This is so true! For me, it's often an engaging combo of the writing style, plot and characters that makes it a good, or great read. :)

    Medeia,
    Thanks so much! :)

    Happy writing,
    Karen

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  30. I think we need all of the above!
    Enjoy your break and good luck with working on the new book.

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  31. Great list, Karen. I would only add prayer, to get God involved. He can help us go from good writers to brilliant writers!

    Happy break,
    Jen

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  32. Ruth,
    I agree with you. :) Thanks so much!

    Jen,
    You are so right! Don't know how we get by otherwise. :)

    Happy writing,
    Karen

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  33. Well, I found your post quite engaging, Karen!

    May the Lord bless you as you write clear and wonderful prose!

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  34. Cheryl,
    Nice to see you! Thanks so much, glad you liked the post. :)
    Blessings,
    Karen

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  35. I agree that it takes all of the above in a good mix! Happy writing and spring cleaning!

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  36. I think you are right, it takes a mix of all the above points. Hope you are having a restful, enjoyable break. Happy Mother's Day!

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  37. Tyrean,
    Thanks so much! :)

    Joy,
    The break has gone well, thank you! :)

    Happy Mother's Day,
    Karen

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  38. I think practice is high on the list. The more you write, the better you get!

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  39. The secret to great writing is...sitting down and writing!

    ;-)

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  40. Shannon,
    This is so true! It's what I tell my teen writing students all the time. :)

    Sandi,
    That probably is the biggest key, you're right! :)

    Happy writing,
    Karen

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  41. One of the secrets to great writing indeed does seem to have something to do with getting Readers Appeal, and with readers that are getting curious and excited about What Comes Next....,

    That is actually why on my blog, near the end of blog posts you will read the text: 'There is More, Coming Soon' with an explanation of what you can expect to read in an upcoming blog post. Like for example new blog posts about a Happy Writers Lifestyle with Blogging & More!

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  42. HP,
    Yes, I love the way you put that! It's so true. How many times do we anticipate what's coming in a book (or not)? It really does make a difference. :) Will have to check out your post!
    Happy writing,
    Karen

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Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. Have a blessed day!