Tuesday 10: 10 Qualities of a Good Writer


10. Understands their characters – You know what type of music they like, what’s hidden in the back of their underwear drawer, what they were like as children, what their impulses are, what their weaknesses are. Nothing’s more frustrating than reading a book where a character does something … well … out of character.

9. Knows when to indulge and knows when to shut up – Sometimes, your character can simply stand up and open the front door.

8. Has a sense of humor – A book with no humor is like a Mexican restaurant with no cheese dip. It doesn’t have to be your whole meal, but would you even eat there without it?

7. Uses innuendo properly – It’s easy to be smutty. Don’t be easy.

6. Understands their audience – It’s tempting to write whatever you want to write, but in order to be a responsible writer (who sells books), you have to take your audience into account. A good book doesn’t have to have mass appeal. Likewise, a mass appeal book is not necessarily a sell-out.

5. Ends a book well – I can tell you from personal experience that this is tough. As writers, we want to give our readers a satisfying ending, but we don’t want to be predictable. We want to kill off someone, let someone live, let the couple get back together, and tear them apart–all in one novel. Sometimes the bravest thing you can do is have an ending that includes none of the above. But whatever you do, WRITE AN ENDING.

4. Uses appropriate vocabulary – Oh, the sky was cyan with an azure tint and haloed in viridescent shades of cerulean? No. the sky was blue. Actually, I don’t care what color your sky is, because I have stopped reading your book. It’s awesome to throw in a few challenging words that are easily identifiable with context clues, but we don’t have anything to prove by writing sentences with words an elephant couldn’t swallow.

3. Edits viciously – Edit once. Edit twice. Edit three times. And when it’s perfect, a good writer edits again. (Then stops.)

2. Is open to feedback – I’m the worst at this because I am usually in love with my own ideas. But I let at least three other people (unbiased people) read my work before I consider it ready for my first edit.

1. Writes – I know! This one seems obvious, but you’d be surprised. The key to being a writer is TO WRITE. There’s always an excuse not to. Distractions, responsibilities, the bag of Doritos in your pantry, NETFLIX! But you’ll never be a writer (good or bad) without writing.

What do YOU think makes a good writer? Leave me a comment … and then go write something of your own! 🙂

One thought on “Tuesday 10: 10 Qualities of a Good Writer

  1. Very good list. The only one I might not agree with is #4. I once heard a compelling argument for unusual words, and it goes something like this: if two different people know the same number of words, it doesn’t mean that they know the same words. Each will know words that strike the other as unusual. And there’s something to be said for choosing a word for its exact meaning, and in this information age, I don’t feel guity that a reader may have to look up a word or two.

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