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What Makes a Great Fiction Author
or Poet?

Here are some qualities that lend themselves
to great and timeless writing

  • A Pure Heart
    This writer does not show off his morality consciously, or press it on others coercively or manipulatively; that would subvert the purpose of literature and is unnecessary. 

    The core of being, one’s heart, is the spring from which all spiritual and soulish streams arise. It is the stream from which thought and language arise.  Its disposition colors my creative output and yours. A good heart naturally communicates good things, in literature as well as in life.

    The great writers knows it is important to have naturally worthwhile ideas for his writing, so he protects his heart and cleanses it through spiritual practices.

  • Viewpoint Oriented Toward Goodness

It is my belief that nothing disturbs the heart but the contemplation of evil. Therefore I eschew the mantra, "Good art disturbs."

The problem with contemplating evil is that contemplation is a sort of unity. The great author doesn't induce his reader to unite himself with the image of evil which he has portrayed in his work. Rather, he portrays evil from the viewpoint of wholeness and goodness, and invites his reader to contemplate that.

And he enjoys that sort of literature himself.

  • An Uncorrupted Imagination
    This writer does not habitually play devil in his imaginary worlds.

    Goodness is original; evil is synthetic. Inspiration, literary truth, and imaginative liveliness bubbles up naturally when the imagination is uncorrupted by the constant devising of evil. If his work and his mind are uncorrupted, he will not usually have to strain to produce lively work.

    Like a great athlete who is always in training, the great author always remembers that his literary work will reflect his literary diet.

  • Sensory Technique
    The great author's awareness of sound clearly distinguishes between beautiful and ugly uses of language. He is capable of literary music-making. He is capable of graceful and persuasive rhetoric. He is capable of divine images and beautiful ideas.

  • A Well-Furnished Mind
    Quotations can indicate superficial familiarity with great literature; a good writer has a better acquaintance with great writing than that.


A good writer's mind is no longer a diamond in the rough. It is well-exercised by the great questions and the great answers.


However, unlike in academic writing, a literary writer knows better than to read everything in his area. That's like asking Gordon Ramsay to improve his palate by eating at Burger King. The great author reads the best and leaves the rest.

  • Trans-Epochal Style
    This great author fearlessly rises above the flatness and dullness of contemporary usage.


He wields words, syntax, diction, and rhetoric elegantly, efficiently, and powerfully. He is adept at avoiding awkwardness and naivety in his work, even when he cannot avoid them in real life.

Like Shakespeare, a great author is the sort of writer usage runs after. He doesn't run panting after usage.

  • A Way With Invention
    This writer astonishes the reader with situations, characters, settings, problems, and solutions he does not expect. (Often, a writer learns to do this by following John Cleese's advice and just getting past his first 20 ideas, or so.)

Worried You Don't Measure Up?

Fear not. Disposition and native talent is enough to get you started. We can work with you from there.

Try our poetry challenges.

Or check out our writing apprenticeships - they come with guaranteed publication, and you get to train and work with a senior author and editor.

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