The qualities of good writing are those characteristics that make a reader want to read on, to finish the piece of writing because he/she is getting new ideas or information, and can follow what the writer is saying. Readers look for clear, focused and fresh ideas that are well organized and make sense. These are the two most basic qualities of good writing. If the writing is a rehash of some tired topic and/or the information is presented in a haphazard way, it will not have the impact intended by the writer.
Another characteristic that brings readers back to the same author or resource again and again is the writer's style. Some writers and teachers call this voice. Voice or style is developed through a writer's word choice, phrasing, pacing, topic choice and point of view. It's that quality that makes one writer's work distinctive from the work of another writer.
An overarching quality of good writing is its attention to the rules of writing. In writing that has a public audience (classmates, peers, teachers, community), the writing is usually expected to follow conventional spelling, punctuation and grammar rules. Those rules guide both the writer and readers, providing the best chance for the writer to convey his or her message. The audience and purpose of the writing determines how closely the writer needs to attend to the rules. For example, if the writing is a note to a friend, the rules are less important than when writing a letter of application or a job resume.
The qualities of good writing can be taught to all student writers and are the cornerstone of every exemplary writing curriculum. Generally, the qualities of ideas, organization and voice are most important while a writer is creating and developing a piece of writing; attention to rules of correctness are most important in the refining and polishing stage of writing.
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