What is bad writing? What is good writing? "Ah, my boy," is the common response. "You'll know it when you see it!" Well, that's not very helpful, is it? That's my response to the common response.
So anyway, having done a bit on statistics - not much, just a bit - I was reminded of the normal distribution (Gaussian distribution, bell curve). And for those who have no idea what it is - and I don't mean to teach people how to suck eggs - it's simply a visual representation of occurrences in a population (and the purists need not send a postcard explaining how my definition differs from the longwinded mathematical one).
Let's take writers as a relevant example. If we get all the writers in the English-speaking world (we don't want any translators, editors, or publishers mixed in with our writers, do we?) and we grade them along a continuum with '0' in the middle and a positive score going left, and a negative score going right as follows:
If we look at what makes a good writer we find that: It depends on the audience who is going to read your drivel! Mmmm, that's not very helpful. Or is it? Maybe, the only measure of a good writer is for a reader to determine. How do readers identify a good writer?
Sometimes, we're told who are good (or great) writers, such as: Stephen King, JK Rowling, Leo Tolstoy, JD Salinger, Ray Bradbury, JRR Tolkien, Mark Twain, but even great writers are not necessarily good writers all the time. For instance (and this isn't my list), Ulysses - James Joyce; Sons & Lovers - DH Lawrence; The Old Man and the Sea - Earnest Hemingway; Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy; Moby Dick - Melville . . . the list goes on.
So, we are still left with "What is a good or bad writer?" I leave it up to the reader. If the bulk of my reviews were 1* or 2* I might think that I was a bad writer, but they're not. A few people obviously think I am a bad writer, but then I'm comforted by the fact that some people think JK Rowling, Steig Larsson, William Shakespear, and many others