on Writing Forward:
A good piece of writing holds your attention. It flows smoothly and everything makes sense. It’s interesting and a pleasure to read.
Great writing, on the other hand, doesn’t just hold your attention; it commands your attention. You become lost in it. You can’t put it down, and when you do, you want to read it all over again.
The question is, how do we define great writing?
Some would say that great writing shows true mastery of the craft: every word is carefully chosen, every sentence is thoughtfully constructed, and every paragraph is brimming with meaning and purpose. If you’ve ever marveled over a superbly written sentence, you’ve experienced this kind of writing.
Others would say that what matters most isn’t the writing but what’s being said. As long as the story or ideas are communicated clearly and as long as they are captivating, who cares how sublime the sentences are? A great story doesn’t need to use word wizardry; it just needs to carry us off to another world.
So, do we identify great writing by the way words are strung together? Does story matter more than beautiful writing? Or do we want it all?