"Good Writing": Defining It and Teaching It

  • Randy Laist Goodwin University
Keywords: composition, rhetoric, writing across the curriculum, writing process


While process-based approaches to writing instruction have emphasized the steps that writers go through to produce a piece of writing, comparatively little scholarship has been devoted to the question of what qualities a finished piece of writing should have. While it is true that writing criteria vary widely across disciplines, genres, and writing situations, there are some rhetorical elements that are generally applicable to any act of structured communication, and recognizing these criteria can help to inform writing instruction and to clarify instructors’ expectations for student writing. This article identifies five rhetorical dimensions associated with effective communication, and it outlines specific strategies for providing explicit instruction that encourages students to develop these qualities in their writing.