🧭 The Guide
SUNY Geneseo’s Writing Guide

What is Good Writing?

That is the reason why I affirm that Kurtz was a remarkable man. He had something to say. He said it.
—Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness

Good writing takes many forms. A good letter, a good novel, a good poem, a good magazine advertisement, a good newspaper article, a good scholarly essay, a good speech, a good instruction manual, a good catalog description, and a good piece of college writing will not possess identical qualities. College writing—the kind of writing The Guide is designed to help students do—can itself be good in different ways. No single description can capture the varied features of a good lab report, a good piece of historical or sociological or psychological or anthropological research, a good literary or artistic analysis, a good business memo, and a good philosophical essay. Yet if the details of good college writing differ from one discipline to another, a few broad features mark good writing in every discipline. Like Conrad’s Kurtz (who is not to be admired for much else), a good writer has something to say and says it. More specifically, good writing