;ink about a work of literature that
you love or that has in;uenced your
life. What impact did this work have
on you? In what ways did this work
meet the criteria of great writing
set forth in this article? Try to give
speci;c examples from the work to
support these statements.
to make note of these in a journal. ;ese
notes may help you create your own
Great writing engages the reader as
a partner in the creative process.
Sometimes you will ;nd a book to read
that seems almost impossible to put
down. Books become “page-turners”
when the reader cares about the fate of
the characters or longs to know the outcome of the adventure. As a writer, the
best way to accomplish this is by creating
likeable characters who face an important
con;ict or obstacle. Interesting plot lines
and unexpected twists add to the sense of
suspense and propel the reader to the ;-
nal resolution. As the reader uses his own
imagination to create images of the characters, visualize the scenes, and predict
the possible outcomes, he feels personally invested in the book. In this way the
book becomes a part of the reader’s own
life experience—the mark of an in;uential
Great writing ;ows
easily, has a subtle
rhythm, and uses
work of literature. Even non;ction books
can accomplish this goal. When a reader
not only reads a work, but internalizes its
message, and alters his life in some way
as a result, then he, too, has engaged as a
partner in the creative process. ;at is part
of the power of great writing.
Great writing has an impact on
the ear as well as the eye.
In today’s world, the use of audible
books is increasing. Audio books are a
great way to absorb great literature on
the go. But you will notice that some
books sound better than others, not
only because of the performance of tal-
ented voice actors, but because of the
audible beauty of the written words of
an extraordinary writer. Great writing
;ows easily, has a subtle rhythm, and
uses pleasing word combinations. As
a writer, one test of your own written
work is to read it aloud. Do any of the
words strike you as discordant as you
read it aloud? Does your tongue tend
to trip over the syllables? If so, you may
need to choose other words or restruc-
ture your sentences in order to enhance
the audible beauty of the written word.
Editor’s Note: LibriVox is a site that offers free audio books (
is a short clip from Dickens’ A Christmas
Carol:;[mp3@64kbps - 21.4MB].
Great writing is quotable.
Have you noticed how o;en pastors and
speakers quote from great writers such as
Shakespeare, Dickens, Pope, Tolstoy, and
many others? ;at is because great writing o;en includes very quotable statements: statements that incorporate great
truths or observations about mankind in
a simple, elegant form. Writers achieve
this quotability by cra;ing their words
carefully to produce a phrase that is easily remembered or has an unexpected
twist that captures the mind and imagination. ;ese quotations tend to have
audible beauty as well. Great writing, like
all great art forms, requires attention to
Great writing reveals great truths.
;e best writing is writing which reveals
truth in a new way or inspires us to pursue truth for ourselves. Most o;en, these
truths concern mankind: the endurance
of the human spirit through great hardship, the e;ects of one man’s actions on
the lives of others, the depravity of man in
his natural state, the triumphs and tragedies that a;ect us all. However, the best
literature, in my opinion, is that which
reveals truths about God as well. As writers, we should strive to present truths,
rather than the errors that a;ict so much
modern writing. Our readers should be
wiser for having read our words.
As you read, use these standards to
judge the writing of others. As you write,
use them to make your own words rise to
Classic literature is great
writing that has stood
the test of time.
the level of “greatness.” Strive to inspire
others by the words that you are inspired
“Words—so innocent and powerless as
they are, as standing in a dictionary, how
potent for good and evil they become in
the hands of one who knows how to combine them.”—Nathaniel Hawthorne
Amelia Harper is a homeschooling mother of ;ve and a pastor’s wife. She is also
the author of Literary Lessons from
the Lord of the Rings, a complete one-year literature curriculum designed for
secondary-level homeschooled students.
In addition, she is an English tutor and
a freelance writer who contributes regularly to newspapers and magazines. For
more information, go to www.home
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