marycatelli (marycatelli) wrote,

the good, the bad, and the adequate

For some reason, I've run across a slew of discussions abouat good writing vs. bad writing.  As a dictomony.

That doesn't quite work.

There's a continuum of writing from the best to the worst.  There is a threshold below which the writing is bad.  It's just too turgid, or tiresome, or opaque, or what have you.

But making it above this threshold doesn't make it good writing.  Adequate writing, perhaps.  No one will pick it up for its crystalline singing prose, but readers may pick it up if it has a good story, plotting, characters, setting, etc., and perhaps more eagerly than they would crystalline singing prose that contains inferior version of those elements.

The sentence

At the soda fountain by the drugstore's back wall, a red-haired soda jerk, in the pink and white uniform, handed a soda to a little girl with blue ribbons on her braids.

is not going to win immortality for its eloquence, or even be singled out by a review as an example of fine writing. (Unless it has some really odd context to lend it weight.)  It is not, however, the same thing as
There was a drugstone.  There was a soda fountain in it.  The soda fountain was at the back.  There was a soda jerk there.  His hair was read.  His clothing was the uniform.  The uniform was pink and white.  What he was doing was handing a soda.  The person he handed it to was a little girl.  The girl had braids.  The braids had blue ribbons.

even though that has exactly the same information.

Tags: style

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