My grandmother came to the US from Italy and I grew up eating her cooking almost every night. I don’t remember thinking this is “authentic Italian food” or this is “really good food.”
It was just my dinner.
I didn’t know my grandmother’s food was good until after I left home and a friend took my to what he described as “the best Italian restaurant in Chicago”.
The food was fantastic and after that meal I knew my grandmother’s food was just as good.
Good writing doesn’t exist in a vacuum. We all know the names of writers who no one will argue have achieved success and are what we can agree are good writers.
The more we read those ‘good’ writers, the more we are exposed to what makes them good; the more we can pick out the ingredients often studied by those who want to help writers hone the craft of writing.
If we see those same ingredients in our writing or can add them to our writing then maybe this is a recipe for achieving what is agreed upon as ‘good writing’.
I believe that writing is derivative. I think good writing comes from good reading. – Charles Kuralt
We can compare elements of style, dialog, description and structure.
This is not an exercise in feeling less than. It’s an exercise in osmosis.
If I were looking to pick up the pace of my writing, I might read Hemingway. He doesn’t waste words. I’d also be brushing up on dialog from a writer who understood the power of subtext.
If I wanted a lesson in voice, maybe I would turn to Salinger. In Catcher in the Rye, he spoke throughout the story as Holden Caulfield in a masterful way.
Writing third person point of view? Ian Fleming. Every James Bond book is a lesson in how to keep the reader close while the main character is both mysterious and distant.
There is a world of good writing examples (and bad – read those as well) to compare, to taste as it were, and find out where we as writers fit in.
Read. Read. Read. Read many genres. Read good writing. Read bad writing and figure out the difference. Learn the craft of writing. – Carol Berg
How would we know if anything was considered good without doing the research?
The most important thing is to read as much as you can, like I did. It will give you an understanding of what makes good writing and it will enlarge your vocabulary. – J. K. Rowling
And of course, we have to get the writing out there for as many people to read as possible. The best writers in the world got where they are for a reason. It’s a journey of consensus.
Lots of people need to be ‘tasting’ our work because they are comparing what they read by using their experience of other authors. We will know if we’re any good when our readers ask for more and more helpings of what we cook up.
Keep writing, never quit.
Christina for PenPaperWrite
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