“The invasion of ideas cannot be resisted.”
This saying adorns the bookmark of the Tempest Book Shop, an Indie cornucopia nestled in Waitsfield, Vermont. Whenever we’re up that way watching Alex race his bicycle, David and I stop in. The last time we visited, we spent a blissful hour or so browsing among its books and CDs. On one trip, perched on a shelf above me was a book with an irresistible title: A Writer’s Coach: The Complete Guide to Writing Strategies that Work by Jack Hart. Our boy Jack is a Jack of all Trades, to be sure. He wrote for many years for The Oregonian, an award-winning newspaper, and penned a column for Editor & Publisher Magazine, and has taught writing workshops all over the country.
Whenever he teaches workshops, he asks those who attend to identify the qualities that spring to mind when they think of good writing. When a piece of writing “grabs them,” when it propels them into the “writer’s world,” what’s going on? Over and over, people give the same basic answers. Good writing:
Crackles with energy: It has a dynamic power that pulls readers in and along.
Communicates directly: It gets to the point quickly and tightly; it doesn’t “waste” a reader’s time.
Transports them: It is filled with “color” and it pulls readers into a scene where they can “see the autumn light,” and “smell the fallen leaves.”
Radiates personality: It has an inviting tone and mood.
Dances on the page: It has a rhythm that’s pleasing.
Sparkles with clarity: Every sentence is so well-crafted its meaning is instantly clear.
Flows seamlessly: Grammar, usage & style all work together correctly and effectively.
As we head to our desks this week, let’s keep these qualities in mind. And write on!