May 30, 2014

Is There Such A Thing As Bad Writing?

I had this idea bouncing around the interior of my cerebellum for the past few days and thought now would be a good as any to regurgitate said idea to see if I could make it more delectable the 2nd time around.

Bad writing.

We've all seen it from time to time, whether in books, magazines (online and print), news/sports/entertainment websites or newspapers (print and online). And I bet a lot of you can raise your hand and admit to churning out some pretty horrible stuff early during those early years (guilty as charged).

But have you stopped for a moment and asked yourself what constitutes bad writing?

After all, somehow we instinctively know bad writing when we read it, and we certainly know good writing when we read it. But have you ever thought about what differentiates bad writing from good writing?

I have a theory/hypothesis in regards to that very issue: Bad writing happens from improper execution of Writing 101.

Think about for a moment. We all start out writing garbage, in fact, it's just about mandatory that our early efforts in writing suck major moose testicles. But, with patience, practice and perseverance (along with checking one's ego at the door and opening the mind to good criticism, etc.) not only does our writing becomes vastly improved, but people actually become interested in what we write.Why?

Proper execution of Writing 101.

When you open your mind and do the groundwork that's the necessary evil in order to churn out a good product, you're executing a solidly crafted plan of attack. For some people (like myself) this takes a lot longer to accomplish, simply because those people 1} got a late jump on writing and 2} needed a few whacks upside the head with a crowbar in order to receive the message clearly.

When you don't open your mind or do the needed groundwork 'cause you think that talent alone will carry you through the day (and because your friends told you so), my friend, the only plan of attack that this can be rightfully called is "garbage in garbage out". If you write garbage and don't do anything to fix it, the end result is in fact, garbage.

Improper execution of the writing basics, no matter what the reason (personal, college, or work) you may have for not doing so, in the long term will only make you look like an idiot. Nobody, and I mean nobody, will take you seriously as a writer, or even as a intelligent co-worker or student, if you can't take the time to brush up on basics for writing.

So my friends, keep this one salient fact in mind: a good story or idea will never overcome improper execution of Writing 101.

(c) 2014 by G.B. Miller. All Rights Reserved.


  1. The fundamentals of coherent and cohesive writing must be established in order to achieve what will be considered as at least passable writing. Some bad grammar and poor spelling can get by in some cases, but probably not often in today's publishing climate.

    The key elements of "good" writing would be: 1) Did the writer convey the idea he was trying to make with some amount of clarity and unique vision? and 2)Do the ideas expressed follow with a cohesive train of thinking that the reader can easily follow to get from point a to point b?

    Then there is the problem of certain experimental writing that steps out of what I've just suggested and delves into a collection of words that may sound cool to certain people, but in reality make no sense to most of us. That's a whole different bizarre ballgame.

    What is the best short story ever written?
    Tossing It Out

  2. Arlee: Succinctly and accurately stated.

    I had a good few teachers when I'd first started writing business correspondence which helped me tremendously. What bothers me the most is the business related writing that specializes on information overload.

    There has to be a fine line between getting your points across in a manner that is pleasant but not pointed, and irritating the crap out of the recipient, and from what I've read, it's more of the latter than the former.

  3. It is ALL good writing and like any art, it is in the eye of the beholder.

  4. G.A,: That is a very true sentiment. However, beauty to one is ugly to another, and if you're trying to impress anyone else beyond your immediately family, you really need to learn the basics.

  5. I agree with Arlee Bird. Left to my own devices, I would have a terribly hard time defining "good writing". Maybe the best I can do is to say I know it when I see it.

  6. Hmm. My two cents: oh yes, YES, there is such a thing. Note Stephanie Meyer.

    What differentiates it? Not enough space to fill out my thoughts on that.

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  10. S.R.: I think that ultimately, in the long run, that is the best that anyone can really do.

    M: Having never read nor seen the movies, I will take your word for it.

  11. I don't really care if something is well written or not as long as the subject matter is interesting and it can hold my attention, as I have a habit of falling asleep when I read most things. :D

  12. Joe: That my friend, is truly the key ingredient. If something can hold your attention, no matter how it's written, then the writer has won the battle. :D


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