What is good writing?
What is good writing?

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What is good writing?

2.5.4. Choosing the right words and phrases

Both Philip and Hansa occasionally use words and phrases that don't really do the job they want. We saw, for instance, that Philip uses the word ‘resemblance’ when actually he means ‘contrast’. Here are some other examples from his writing.

Philip's words More accurate words
Paragraph 1 ‘portrayal’ portrait, account
‘orientated to’ fitted for
Paragraph 2 ‘a greater amount of society’ a wider society
Paragraph 3 ‘variation of’ variety of
Paragraph 4 ‘certain amount of jibes’ many jibes

And in Hansa's second paragraph I'd say it is more correct to refer to the ‘exercise of’ skills than to the ‘indulgence’ of them.

Choice of words

When you are writing you have to use the words that come to you. You would never get started if you stopped to worry over each one. However, when you are reading over what you have written you should check that you have used words that convey the meaning you intended. The exact meaning of the words you use is more important in writing than in speech.

In the long run your sensitivity to the shades of meaning words carry will increase. But as you study, the best thing to do is just get on with your writing – with a dictionary at your elbow.


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