What makes good writing?

When you’re new to writing, it’s not always clear what would be considered a well-written piece as compared to one that’s just mediocre.

The answer is this: use action verbs and delete all unnecessary words. Journalists call it “writing tightly,” meaning you convey your story with the least number of words possible.

Here’s an example of a mediocre sentence versus a well-written one:

MEDIOCRE: The washing machine agitator vibrated back and forth to clean his boxers and her unmentionables.

MUCH BETTER: His and her undergarments swished in the washer.

The use of the verb “swished” makes it possible to omit the following words: machine, agitator, vibrated, back and forth.

The use of the word “undergarments” makes the words “his boxers and her unmentionables” unnecessary.

By using language differently, it is possible to pare a 15-word sentence to eight without sacrificing the meaning or intention of the information presented.

That’s good writing.

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