An Ode To Good Writing

Pic credit – Denise Kreb, Miss A writes a song

Humans have a superpower that other creatures don’t have. It’s the power to write. Writing is the medium by which humans have passed on ideas and ideals from one generation to the next. Other art forms (cinema, music, paintings) also depend on the written word to create, label, or critically review them. Abraham Lincoln called writing “the great invention of the world”. Good writing resonates universally. This probably explains why “A Tale of Two Cities”, was translated in more than fifty languages and became a bestseller in almost every one of them, even though it was set in the particular period of the French Revolution.

While different from other genres like novels or screenplays, MBA admissions essays also require quality writing to rise above the pack and present a compelling, authentic candidacy. As Artificial Intelligence based writing tools become more powerful and accessible, the bar of what makes for quality writing will only keep rising higher.

Having read through tens of thousands of application essays over the years, we have been fascinated by how certain stories are so good they almost jump off the page. And they may as well have been what the Spanish playwright Enrique Jardiel Poncela alluded to when he said, “When something can be read without effort, great effort has gone into its writing.”

Therefore, we have attempted to list certain characteristics which make for good writing.

Clarity  – Great writing comes from clarity of thinking. And the best of such writing is one which almost writes itself. When a clear mind writes, it can communicate using the simplest of language. And everyone gets the message at first go.

Conviction  – Have you ever felt that certain writing speaks to you on a deep level and you can’t explain why. We hypothesize that the writer’s conviction has a role to play. When someone writes with great conviction, it breaks the clutter and hits home. Therefore, one of the tricks to write well is to pick themes in which one has substantial conviction. In other words, write “your truth”.

Connection – Such writing establishes a connection with almost everyone. It speaks to every reader personally, at scale. And makes the author a part of the inner circle of the reader.

Character – Once a connection is established, the reader can also read between the lines. This is especially relevant for application essays where the admissions committee gets a sense of the writer’s character i.e., values, personality, worldview and perspective via their writing.

The best application stories combine clarity, conviction, and connection at scale. They flow naturally and the message is effectively delivered. Such stories feel light even when speaking of heavy matters. The effort that has gone behind the writing is hidden from the reader. This is what makes the stories very compelling. Therefore, if we have one wish in this new year for the readers of this piece, it would be “happy writing”.




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