The thing about publishing people is that most of us make a living being all judgy about other people’s work. For some of us, that extends to other areas of our lives. I find myself editing my friends when they start telling me about their job woes, their relationship problems, their kids’ lack of interest in homework, you name it. “If she’d started out with that information,” goes the internal monologue, “I wouldn’t be making a mental list of what I need at Costco and now have no clue what she’s asking me.” Most of the time, the editing also takes place in my head and I don’t actually ask for a stronger opening and a more concise narration.
Given that a large part of our mission is to tell authors how to ply their trade better, I’m often struck by how hard it is to give truly helpful advice on how to (a) write well and (b) be a successful writer. These “Writing Aphorisms” in the Huffington Post remind me that while we’re all incredibly preoccupied with the subject, analyzing and communicating the essence of great writing is as difficult as deciphering Gertrude Stein’s meaning…ever.
Can you share five elements that make up great writing for you? I’ll try to come up with my five and we’ll compare notes.