Noticing what works in good writingJul 03, 2023
By Rhea Wessel
During my summer travels, I had the pleasure to read “Women, Food and God” by Geneen Roth. Not to overplay the metaphor, but I gobbled up this book.
As a writer, book coach and teacher of journalistic writing, when I find books or articles that are well-written, I ask myself, “Why is this so good?”
If you’re working to improve your writing, get in this habit, too. When you become engaged, notice it. Explore and articulate why.
In my view, this book is so good because it has:
A narrow focus
A specific audience
But there’s even more. It:
Is born from lived experience
Has intimacy between the author and the reader, but not too much. The author is not acting like the reader’s best friend or therapist but behaves as a helpful guide
Addresses an endemic issue – body image among women
Has practical application
From the title, you would think the book is about food. But it’s not. It’s about life. Food is a stand-in.
This book is about the hard work it takes to be present and how to avoid falling into the trap of using substances or habits (such as food, drugs or workaholism) to avoid feelings that are uncomfortable. It applies to both men and women.
If you’re working on a topic related to your business, and it seems a lot dryer than Roth’s subject matter, there are still ways to apply the lessons of good writing that her book showed.
Look at the list above and see if your latest article or the book you’re working on has these ingredients.
Intimacy with the reader may seem the hardest to achieve in business writing, but it is possible.
To do that, dig into your purpose. Why are you writing the piece? Why is it so important to you to share this knowledge? Understand if there's a back story that you may want to tell. Or use the back story to help you write about the subject in a more passionate way.
-Rhea Wessel is the Founder and Head of the Institute for Thought Leadership. She can be reached at [email protected]