In praise of good writing.

Usually, I direct your attention to a snippet of weak writing. It’s useful to see mistakes in context.
However, today I thought you’d enjoy a brief look at a piece of strong writing. Hopefully this introductory paragraph will give you some ideas…

“Sustainability is a loaded term. I’m confused, bemused and amused by vernacular at times. I hope you’ll allow me to discover what I mean by sustainability as I write this article. Webster defines “sustain” as to maintain, prolong, endure, withstand, or “to suffer”. Okay, the “suffering” aside, I’m all over prolonging anything I perceive as positive and ending anything I perceive as negative.”

Lets break this down part by part:

“Sustainability is a loaded term.”
Are we reaching the saturation point with the ‘S’ word? I fear its increasing popularity (overuse?) may be diluting its imperative. In short order, this inaugural sentence connects with our growing exhaustion and promises a fresh perspective. Starting with a provocative, contentious idea is a great way to attract attention and compel the reader to continue.

“I’m confused, bemused and amused by vernacular at times. I hope you’ll allow me to discover what I mean by sustainability as I write this article.”
That nice use of rhyme sets a lighter tone for the piece and complements the first person “I”. Together, these choices say “no stuffy discourse here. I’m talking to you as if we were sitting at a table.” ‘I hope you’ll allow me’ even acknowledges the reader’s power over participating (‘to read or not to read’) and seeks to establish some sense of equality.

“Webster defines “sustain” as to maintain, prolong, endure, withstand, or “to suffer”. Okay, the “suffering” aside, I’m all over prolonging anything I perceive as positive and ending anything I perceive as negative.”
‘Okay’ and ‘I’m all over’ affirm that this will be a light, conversational read. The writer promises to keep the topic interesting and the pace moving along.

…I perceive as…
This is a little distracting and repetitive. Would something like “I’m all over prolonging the positive and ending the negative.” do the job just as well?

As a whole, these elements ease the natural flow of the piece, bringing the author’s voice out from behind the words. The style invites the reader to stick around and see what’s coming next. If only we saw more writing in this format.

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