That’s it. That’s my only writing rule. It applies to fiction, non-fiction, business writing, copywriting … just about every kind of writing you can imagine. A possible exception might be technical writing though I think it probably applies there as well. Just imagine someone very dry and clipped and matter of fact.
Writing is about communicating. Words, sentences and syntax are the tools we use. So when you write, don’t ask, “Is this well written?” Ask, “Does this communicate my meaning well?”
Writing correctly is not the same as writing well. A sentence can be perfectly grammatical yet fail to communicate its message. Some sentences are ungrammatical yet communicate their meaning immediately and clearly.
As an example, imagine a dangerous situation, one where immediate action is vital. Which of these two sentences would you respond to more quickly?
“We must make haste from our location and position ourselves more favourably.”
Or, “Run, ya dumb fuck!”
My apologies for the language but I think it makes its point. And to the editors out there, yes. The last three words of the second sentence aren’t necessary. But they communicate urgency and … they’re human! (See my only rule, above.)