Part II Part III Part IV

Good Writing is...


Everyone “writes” in a way; that is, each person has a “story”—a personal narrative —which is constantly being replayed, revised, taken apart, and put together again. The significant points in this narrative change as a person ages—what may have been tragedy at twenty is seen as comedy or nostalgia at forty. All children “write.” (And paint, and sing.) I suppose the real question is why do so many people give it up. Intimidation, I suppose. Fear of not being good. Lack of time.
Margaret Atwood
Sunset on Literature
“The highest level of personal writing is a global skill that is made up of a handful of component skills.”
Jennifer Van Bergen

SFU Professor Carolyn Mamchur has enjoyed twenty years of teaching writing and developing programs that hone in on the creative process, and reduce Don Murray's’ seven skills to four, which she defines as:

1. Discovering Your Subject:

Finding the topic that you want to explore, the story you need

to tell, the truth you want to discover and reveal. It is no easy
task. It is related to what Jean‐Paul Sartre discovered, that
when I began writing, I began my birth over again, except that
this time I took an active part in the outcome, by wresting with
all the color and shadow in my body and soul – both the dark
and the light” (Lee, 1994, p. 75).

2. Sensing an Audience:

Taking responsibility for making your subject clear and delivering what
it promises with impact and integrity and voice as you create a relationship
with your reader through your words.

3. Searching for specifics:

Finding those necessary and concrete details that permit the writer to
tell her unique story or argument by providing meaningful symbols and
metaphors and preventing the work from being vague, abstract,
convoluted and without individuality.

4. Creating a design:

Putting the various pieces together in such a way that eliminates anything
unnecessary, makes clear what is at stake, enhances meaning and leaves
the audience satisfied (Mamchur 2001).

Mamchur, C. 2001. Designs for learning writing: Writing. Education 485‐8. Study guide, Burnaby, BC:
Simon Fraser University, Faculty of Education, Centre for Distance Education.