Tonight’s first of two guest blog posts is brought to you by Benjamin Cohen.
Five Qualities Every Good Writer Must Have
A lot of people think writing is easy. In reality though, to write a captivating piece of literature takes time and practice. Of course, some writers naturally have talent while other people have to work on their craft. Writing is fluid though – ideas and styles can change as time progresses, so if things aren’t clicking today, that doesn’t mean they won’t today. Nonetheless; there are certain qualities any good writer should have. If you’re wondering if you have what it takes, ask yourself if these 5 qualities describe you.
A writer must be able to focus and stay on topic. A story must have a central idea – one that is clear and easy to follow. Every paragraph must have a solid main point that the reader comprehends well. What separates good writers from great writers is often the ability to focus. Unfortunately, this is a trait that might take years to fully hone. Without focus, a writer is in serious jeopardy of losing the attention and/or respect of his or her audience.
A writer should have the best grammar possible. Many people scoff at this idea, but in reality, poor grammar can confuse readers, and again, influence their opinion of you. Grammar goes much further than adhering to a set of rules – proper grammar allows your words to flow well and appeal to readers’ eyes and ears. Grammar really is a dying art, and many writers cause their readers confusion by writing with poor grammar. Luckily, any writer, over time, can develop excellent grammar. One way to improve is to read their work aloud. Awkward phrasing and poor grammar will be easily apparent when doing so.
A writer must have above superb research skills. This is because even if you excel at writing what you know, you must eventually seek greener pastures and write about something new. In order to do so, you must throw yourself into researching the topic. Even if you create a piece of work that is compelling and focused, but contains research errors, your piece and your reputation will suffer. Research skills are more important now than in the past, because so much of what’s out there online is fabricated. Proper research may involve traveling, interviewing and more, so be ready for this.
Knowing Your Audience
A lot of writers suffer when it comes to writing to their audience. However, a skilled writer should know how to write in various styles while also keeping their audience in mind. For example, someone writing a research article will want to use a different tone than someone writing a novel. That is not to say that certain fundamentals do not exist in all writing, just that a person needs to keep their readers in mind. Depending on whether you’re writing to teens, stay at home moms or PhDs, you will need to know how to appeal to different audiences.
All writers should have thick skin – you will never be universally praised. For every reader who loves your work, 5 will hate it. This doesn’t mean you are a failure – just normal. You must learn to take criticism with a grain of salt. Furthermore, you have to prepared for rejection. Even JK Rowling had a hard time getting her first novel published.
Thank you, Benjamin.
Benjamin Cohen writes about his career as an author, his education in English literature and most recently, the best online colleges for liberal arts degrees.
If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me with an outline of what you would like to write about. If it’s writing-related then it’s highly likely I’d email back and say “yes please”.
Next up is ‘My book on the library shelf’ multi-genre author and interviewee Terri Morgan, then the blog interviews return as normal tomorrow morning with historical mystery author Eleanor Sullivan – the six hundred and fourteenth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.
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As I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t unfortunately review books but I have a list of those who do, and a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words (and post stories of up to 3,000 words), or posted for others to critique (up to 5,000 words) on the new Morgen’s Online Short Story Writing Group. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me posting it online in my new Red Pen Critique Sunday night posts, then do email me. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry and Morgen’s Online Poetry Writing Group.
Four new online writing groups:
- Morgen’s Online Novel Writing Group (http://novelwritinggroup.wordpress.com / http://www.facebook.com/groups/508696639153189)
- Morgen’s Online Poetry Writing Group (http://poetrywritinggroup.wordpress.com / http://www.facebook.com/groups/388850977875934)
- Morgen’s Online Script Writing Group (http://scriptwritinggroup.wordpress.com / http://www.facebook.com/groups/319941328108017)
- Morgen’s Online Short Story Writing Group (http://shortstorywritinggroup.wordpress.com / http://www.facebook.com/groups/544072635605445)
We look forward to hearing your comments.