6 Features of a Good Piece of Writing

24 Jun 2016

child writing on notebook


The new writing format for English Language at Primary level may be daunting and a deterrence to most students. Shifting away from writing narrative essays based on the given picture or scenario, pupils are now required to write based on a given theme with three pictures given.

This format gives students a lot of flexibility in writing and room for creativity. Creative writing, like all other art forms, is subjective. Hence, quality and "the best piece" can be difficult to define.  What we can ask ourselves is:

What constitutes a good piece of writing?

Put yourself in the shoes of a reader

Often, many associate a good piece of writing with a good storyline or even the use of sophisticated words. You would be surprised to know that the essence of a good essay is pretty nondescript.

A good piece of writing is one that is easily understood by the reader. George Orwell made famous the following questions that the "scrupulous writer" must ask himself: What am I trying to say? What words will express it? What image or idiom will make it clearer? Is this image fresh enough to have an effect? (Politics and the English Language, 1946).

To put Orwell's criteria into practice, let us consider the following traits that are essential to a piece of good writing:

  1. Ideas
    • the piece has a focused theme that is expressed in a clear and concise way with enough supporting details that create a picture in the reader's mind
    • the writer also reveals the ideas logically so that there is completeness and a good resolution is reached.
  2. Organisation
    • the ideas are arranged logically and lead the reader seamlessly from one point to another with the use of good transition words.
  3. Writer's Voice
    • the writer is able to create a connection with the readers by expressing his ideas in a fresh and original way
  4. Word Choice
    • accurate use of words in context
    • the writer employs strong verbs, good words and phrases that paint a clear picture e.g. using metaphors and similes, emotion and sensory words.
  5. Sentence fluency
    • the writer is adept at writing well-thought out sentences of varying patterns (both short & simple and long & complex) that flow through the writing
  6. Conventions
    • the writer uses accurate spelling, consistency and control in grammar usage, punctuation, paragraphing. This makes the piece easy to follow.

Just Write

" I hear and I forget.
I see and I remember.
I do and I understand. "
-- Confucius

As the old adage goes, "Practice makes perfect." The above are ways that can make your writing easy to understand. However, without hands-on practice, one will never figure out how these writing theories work.

So, just write! So said the prolific author Margaret Atwood, "If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word."


The above information is contributed by Chitra Pillay, Associate Lecturer from Marshall Cavendish Institute

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