Raising an eyebrow in Paris

Houston and Steve ponder what makes good writing.
(Photo by M.C. Lester)

Here's a basic checklist for the fundamentals of good writing. It's particularly useful for new or reluctant writers. (More experienced writers can check out this more robust set of tips.)

1. Ideas

Actionable Item: A strategy to help you develop your ideas and details.

2. Organization

  • A beginning that entices the audience to read more.
  • An ending that makes readers think, feel or do.
  • Logical and easy-to-follow organization.

Actionable Item: Get help writing better beginnings and endings.

3. Voice

  • A voice and resulting tone that is appropriate to the subject and resonates with your audience.
  • A voice that sounds like a real person.
  • Strong feelings and honest statements.

Actionable Item: Tips for developing and using voice effectively.

4. Word Choice

Actionable Item: How to choose the best words for your content.

5. Sentence Fluency

  • Start sentences in different ways.
  • Use different lengths and structures.
  • Structure sentences to make the meaning clear.
  • Rhythm, rhyme, alliteration, and other “effects” used appropriately and effectively.

Actionable Item: Examples and strategies for using different sentence patterns.

6. Conventions

  • Correct spelling, including proper nouns.
  • Punctuation that makes the writing easy to understand.
  • Proper usage, particularly of technical terms.
  • Grammar that makes the writing easier to understand (may not always follow rules).

Credit goes to my brilliant husband, Steve Peha, founder of Teaching That Makes Sense.