Good Writing just gets me!
I love writing and so I believe myself to be a pretty good judge of what sounds great and what, well, does not. Good Writing knocks me out! It’s that “aha!” moment where you hear something and it’s like music to your ears.
What immediately comes to mind is, “I couldn’t write that any better myself.” That’s not being boastful it’s simply recognizing the brilliance of putting all the right ingredients into play and seeing them blend and flow smoothly intertwined together into a cohesive whole.
What attracts me most in the realm of Good Writing is dialogue. TV is the best place to observe this. In situation comedies, sometimes the writing can be like a sugar ache in the back of my mouth. The words and phrases are strung together so poorly that I just wait for that battap bah, drum sound in the background. That’s not to say there aren’t any good sit coms out there (I still can’t get enough of 30 Rock.) It just seems occasionally the writing aims for the base laugh and leaves the path to get there too muddled.
Dramas can be different. When you have a complicated interplay between two characters expressing their emotions and you feel like you’re eavesdropping on a private conversation that’s Good Writing. I cite Grey’s Anatomy for one as a great example of this. That’s not to say there aren’t bad dramas too. But if you follow characters long enough (you stick with a show through the ups and downs of good and bad writing, seeing characters come and go until it all meshes just right), then you can see how the writing leaps off the script page and comes alive in the mouths of the two actors before your eyes.
In Bad Writing, it’s almost too painful to sit through. The dialogue can seem stilted or so forced and hacked together it’s as if the actors came up with the lines themselves. They seem to have improvised in a bad way, desperate to find any ol’ words that would fill the scene. It’s painful to witness and sad to believe the editing process did not catch it beforehand in their table reads or rehearsals.
Good Writing should evoke emotions, the kind of emotions that make you feel something deep within, get inside your gut and leave you longing for more. When you can’t stop the tears from flowing or you slip to the edge of your seat waiting for that perfect kiss, or maybe you feel like throwing your TV remote at the screen because of that evil character whipping up mayhem in the background, that’s Good Writing.
And Good Writing is something we should all strive for, ponder, and experience as writers. After all, if you aren’t stirred by anything you write, then neither will your reader be.