what makes writing good

I've got a Pinterest board called "Good Writing and Storytelling." 

 My description: "There's great storytelling and/or writing on this board, and there's some that borders on dreadful, but there's a reason to examine each of these. I found them interesting in the way they fulfilled their purpose... or didn't."

Here's my latest pin on that board: "'Atlanta's Turner Field is dying -- and American Sanity is Dying With It' by Will Bunch at philly.com. Good Storytelling. The writer's passion and indignation are front and center along with impressive statistics and a fresh way of showcasing them. The quality of the writing lags behind the impressive persuasion, but the persuasion trumps the writing here. Well done."

Here's a link to the story itself

I started this board on Pinterest as a way for me to examine what makes writing good -- it's what I teach, and it's what I'm always trying to learn. I'm very selective about the links I pin here, so the board has grown slowly. Looking at it now, though, I smile at my own remarks (click on the links below that will take you to each individual Pinterest pin, and then click on the image if you want to read the article that I -- ahem -- assess):

-- Overwriting at its finest. Superlative cliches. Still, I appreciate all the information about Osage Farms in Rabun County, Georgia, as I want to go there soon, and at least this writer's report is thorough.

--  I like this piece in The Atlantic by Michael Agresta, because it's enlightening and informative in its assessment of the failure of The Lone Ranger this summer as well as its tie-in to the Western genre, and the Western's place in American film, myth, dreams, nostalgia. Nicely done.

-- Washington Post to be sold to Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon - The Washington Post. Very well-written in that it gives the reader solid background about both Bezos and The Post, and puts the history of the Post and its sale into context. It also presents the facts of the sale in a cogent, readable fashion. Well done, even though I am bereft....

-- "You kids today have got it too easy. You’re spoiled rotten! You guys wouldn’t have lasted five minutes back in 1980!" hahahaha. 1980. sheesh. But I like the comparisons and the voice. It's not great writing, but the voice and energy carries this little piece about how good kids have it now, compared to the '80s, written by a thirty-something.

And on and on. I hadn't realized that I'd gathered such an eclectic mix on this board until I looked at it of-a-piece today. You can see them all, right here, along with each pin's description, from"Meeting Joan Didion" in The Paris Review to a review of the Opening Ceremonies of the 2012 Olympics in London, to a video clip of Petula Clark singing "Fill the World With Love" in Goodbye, Mr. Chips (and my assessment of how this is great storytelling).

I guess I'll keep it up. Every time I find one of these gems, I learn something. And that's the whole point. I am ever the student.


  1. Doesn't the right voice and/or words at the right time really demand what we read? It's sort of like biblio/fortune-telling/therapy.

  2. Great to see you at Little Shop the other day! Wish we'd had more time to talk!

  3. Hey, y'all. I look up and it's the new year. Happy happy. Jef: I agree absolutely. I like saving what's speaking to me at a given moment. I like the idea of bibliotherapy and ascribe to it. E: let's find time to get together soon -- xo


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