What to you makes good writing great?

To me, it’s the use of various techniques that take your writing up a notch; some say that make your writing “sing.” Sometimes, to make your writing sing, you may need to break a few rules along the way.

For instance, pacing is a huge part of writing effectively and well. You’ll notice pace used frequently in fiction and will also see it’s evidence in good nonfiction. To control pacing, you may need to use sentence fragments to speed things up. Fragments are grammatically incorrect, of course, but they can create just the pace you’re looking for.

You can also control pacing through sentence length and syllable length in words. Short words and sentences will nearly always quicken the pace of your writing.

How about lyrical qualities? Writing should have a rhythm to it–a flow that takes you from one scene or one paragraph to another. One way to achieve rhythm is to write ideas or present nouns in pairs or trios: “The sunset transformed the sky into red and purple. The mountains and clouds reflected its beauty.”

Sometimes you can create rhythm and even mood through specific word choices. Using hard consonant sounds you can create moods of anger, tension, or sadness. Using long vowel sounds leads to feelings of calmness, peacefulness, or soberness. Think of vowel sounds you would use when speaking to a baby: the “oo” sound as in “moon,” or a long E sound. These have a calming effect.

And, then there are techniques such as metaphors, similes, aphorisms, onomatopoeia, and alliteration. These can definitely help make your writing sing. The balance with such techniques, however, is to use them sparingly and don’t make them the center of attention. You want your reader to notice the overall quality and tone of your writing and not stop mid-paragraph to admire your metaphor. These techniques should be supporting actors in your performance and not the main stars.

I’d love to hear from you on techniques you use to make your writing sing. Or, what have you found in others’ writing that you find especially lyrcial?