Close enough for jazz isn’t close enough for writing

One of the tricky parts of writing is conveying your meaning.

Writing fuel!
Writing fuel!

You know what you mean. Does the reader? That’s the hard part – and it’s where ‘beta readers’ and editors come in. But it’s also something that needs to be got right – or as close to right as you can – first off.

That’s why calling something  ‘close enough for jazz’ – meaning ‘close enough is good enough’ – doesn’t wash.

Actually, that doesn’t wash in jazz music, either. That genre has some of the most precise and complex rhythms known in music. Ever tried to play a piece in ‘Thirteen’? It’s 5/8 and 4/4 on alternate bars to create the rhythm one-two-one-two-three/one-two-three-four. Try tapping it on your desk. Go on, I double dare you. The first bar and last have to be tapped in the same number of seconds.

The same’s true of writing. Rhythm counts when it comes to word pace and phrasing. So does the selection of the words. Why? Because words are imperfect vehicles to convey the meaning of ideas. And close enough just isn’t good enough if you have a particular meaning in mind.

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2015


6 thoughts on “Close enough for jazz isn’t close enough for writing

  1. Just a note to say how much I enjoy your posts. I’ve been writing for a long time, but there’s always something to learn, some nuance of structure and language that needs that extra little oomph. Cheers!

    1. Rhythm is SO important to written style – I can always tell when an editor has fiddled with my writing because, apart from anything else, they always break the rhythm…

  2. Understanding slang phrases is the hard part for me. I read a blog from a different country and they used an expression which I had never heard before. It left a hole in their writing that I couldn’t fill in.

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