7 Attributes of Enjoyable Writing

What are the characteristics of writing that is enjoyable to read? Is enjoyment purely a subjective thing, or are there some objective criteria? I don’t know! But here is my thinking aloud on the matter.

Harvest Writer, by John O'Nolan http://www.flickr.com/photos/johnonolan/

Writing that is enjoyable to read…

  • Uses the exactly right word or turn of phrase. You know exactly what the writer is getting at, and you think “I couldn’t have put that better myself”.
  • Doesn’t try to show off the writer’s cleverness or facility with words. In fact, the writing is enjoyable because it was written for the benefit of the reader rather than the writer.
  • Has variety. Not all the sentences are the same length, for example.
  • Contains surprises. Surprise endings and twists and turns do not have to be confined to fictional writing.
  • Creates empathy, by which I mean it makes the reader care. I believe this applies as much to non-fiction as to fiction.
  • Is correct. I am not a pedant, and to be honest I don’t much care about splitting infinitives if doing so makes the writing flow better and sound less stilted. But using the correct words (eg not “continuous” when you mean “continual”) and punctuation is essential. And these days, given the internet and grammar checkers and spellcheckers in word processors, there isn’t much of an excuse to make silly mistakes. (Even though we all do!)
  • Leaves you wanting more.
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