Good Writing Examples
from Inside Out
What Makes Good Writing Interesting?
Good Writing has Voice
"Waiting eagerly behind the dark stage wings for her music cue to enter into brightly colored spot lights. Lights with cool and warm colors. Nervous, tense muscles, and pounding heart. Thinking over her part before darting on stage to do her dream ballet" (112).
Good Writing Moves
"She was in a bad mood anyway. He kept bugging her, so finally before the curtains opened she agreed to go and buy him popcorn. Secretly she had a crush on him, but he was sitting next to another girl. It was a very scary movie, when she came back the theater was silent. She walked down the aisle with a big bucket of buttered popcorn. He was sitting directly behind her, when she started to hand it to him, both of their hands slipped. In the silence of the movie, all there is to hear is --- DUMB***!" (113).
Good Writing has a Sense of Humor
Humorous piece --
"The boys you thought were God's sweet angels turned out to be the dirty dozen instead. One thinks he is the six million dollar man, but is the fifty dollar hyperactive midget, who is working for the CIA on figuring out if babysitters are the backbone of the U.S.'s economy crisis. Everyone needs babysitters, at least I think everyone needs them" (114).
Serious piece with humor --
"No words are spoken until he notices that my hands are empty of game.
Where's the meat? he asks as he throws another piece of wood on the fire.
Still in its skin, I guess. I laugh at my remark and he looks at me sternly and I get the message that he'd rather I keep my remarks to myself. A silent period takes place as we sit down to eat supper" (115).
Good Writing is Informative
"Backstage at a ballet performance is one of the most hectic places imaginable. Costumes are hanging everywhere. The smell of hair spray, sweat, and ballet bags fills the room. The make-up lights are hot and very bright which practically causes your make-up to run before getting it on. People are nervous, fidgety, scared. I noticed that some were very quiet, going over steps in their minds, and others were nervously cit-chatting, trying to take their minds off being scared. the excitement in the air is thick. Curtain is in five minutes" (116).
Good Writing is Inventive
"An older man, about fifty years old, sits at a roundtop table. A cup of de-caffeinated coffee, sipped noisily at one minute intervals, is in front of him to the right. A pack of cigarettes rests, at an angle, on the plate-sized, half-full, ceramic ashtray to his left. His rugged, aged semi-line-creased face is covered from the cheekbone down with a salt and pepper beard. His upper lip is invisible in the multi-earth-colored mustache. He sits with his right elbow resting on the table with his forehead planted in his palm. The smoke stained fingers are visible in his dark brown fine hair. On the table in front of him, he reads the words off of the paper that he has written. He destroys the still image, in what seems only a split second, to light a cigarette, sip the coffee, clear his throat, then he resumes the position. His smoking cigarette strategically and instinctively finds its place in the right hand, between the yellow fingers" (117).
What Makes Good Writing Technically Skillful?
Good Writing has a Sense of Audience
"I float in peace in my cocoon--fluffy cotton walls, not visible to sight but soft to the touch. Air sweet. Sweeter than honey to the taste. Being suspended as I am in total weightlessness my mind is free, free as the wind is free to blow and take residence any place it pleases. having this freedom, I travel to the limit of boundless thoughts -- Here I can be sad but not cry, happy but not smile, wonder but not be confused, find answers to questions not asked, war with the real, be at peace with fantasy. I have been shaken and torn away from my cocoon -- I want to return -- I never want to leave. If you see me but cannot find me -- that is where I shall be . . . I was really there---" (118).
Good Writing Uses Detail but Not Too Much Detail
". . . the colors black, blue, green, and a tinge of red" (119).
"Mouth agape. . . " (119).
". . . the toys and papers and clothes and baseball cards and the the bubble gum stuck to the rug, the half-burnt pots of spaghettios and the dried grape juice on the white counter" (119).
"His rugged, aged semi-line-creased face. . . the multi-earth-colored mustache. . .His smoking cigarette. . .finds its place in the right hand, between the yellow fingers" (120).
Good Writing Uses Words that Sing
Rhythm, repetition, and variation
"Laugh. It was a joke. I think it was a joke. . . Mr. Roger blaring on the screen, the phone ringing, the door bell buzzing, and the already burnt spaghettios burning again. . . ." (120).
Paradox, words that play with each other
"Here I can be sad but not cry, happy but not smile, wonder but not be confused, and find answers to questions not asked, war with the real, be at peace with fantasy" (121).
Imagery, the dramatic scene
"As I gain the crest of the mountains, I see in the fading light the solitary figure of my father. . . " (121).
"The smell of hair spray, sweat, and ballet bags fills the room" (121).
Association, metaphor and simile
"His upper lip invisible in the multi-earth-colored mustache. . . He destroys the still image. . .His smoking cigarette strategically and instinctively finds its place in the right hand. . ." (121).
Emphasis, the right verbs and nouns and adjectives
"Mouth agape, Henry stared. . . " (121).
". . . the fifty dollar hyperactive midget. . . clothes that build into mountains. . . ." (121).
Sounds of speech, real dialogue
"Where's the meat?" he says as he throws another piece of wood on the fire.
"Still in the skin, I guess." I laugh at my remark and he looks at me sternly and I get the message that he'd rather I keep my remarks to myself (115).
Good Writing Has Form
So came the night;
It dropped down upon me
I was blanketed by purple blackness
and everything was dry
and everything was wet
and everything was cold
And my head fell forward in sorrow
But it was useless.
I saw it in the shadows, in the
corners, behind every tree, every
opaque object; but I still saw it.
It creeped behind me and my
spine melted in the heat
of death's passion.
It grabbed me and held me
squeezing my last breaths
into the fog.
and everything was dry
and everything was wet
and everything was cold. (122)
Good Writing Observes the Conventions of Mechanics and Usage
Kirby, Dan., Liner, Tom, and Vinz, Ruth. Inside Out: Developmental Strategies for
Teaching Writing. Portsmouth: Heineman, 1988.
Date this page was last edited: 07/20/2004