What does it mean to be a good writer? 

The aim of good prose is to convey the writer’s thoughts, ideas, and feelings to the reader in a concise and (hopefully) elegant manner. To the extent that the writer is successful, that author can be said to be a “good writer.” Quality writing begins with a deep understanding of how language conveys information. Understanding these rules (grammar) is an important first step in mastering the pen. But it is only the first step.

The English language is constantly evolving. I see it not as a set of rigid rules but rather as an infinitely expressive medium for conveying thought. With tens of thousands of words in our lexicon, we are truly limited only by our imagination.

When we think of great writers, names like William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, and Mark Twain top the list. Why? It is not because they were expert spellers and proofreaders, although I’m sure they were. It is because they had original thoughts and they knew how to convey them in prose. Being a good writer assumes that you have new thoughts to bring into the world. Don’t worry, this part isn’t as daunting as it sounds. Humans are creative by nature. Channeling that creativity effectively through language is just one of many skills I teach my students.

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