The challenge writers face is not the prose, grammar or writing style (although those are significant too), it’s the validity of argument.
It’s too easy to fall victim to personal biases. A lot of the time grand assumptions and statements are made without the support of a logical argument. This isn’t limited to writing, but people’s thinking processes and speech. It’s just especially evident in writing.
These things don’t go unnoticed. Even if the reader doesn’t explicitly know what’s wrong, they will become suspicious and eventually, if it continues, distrusting of the person’s knowledge, expertise or character.
The biggest challenge for writers across the board are fallacy arguments. Unlike grammar, they’re insidious.
We often see them in people’s rants and emotionally charged rhetoric. At first they may seem believable until we apply logical, rational reasoning and the whole argument falls apart. Here are two common fallacies:
– THE RED HERRING: a red herring argument is when someone argues an irrelevant point in response to another argument, drawing attention away from the original subject. This distraction is often overlooked in speech but in writing it just leads to confused logic and circular thinking.
-THE ANECDOTAL FALLACY: is when we use personal experience or an isolated example to make a point instead of facts, evidence and reasoning. Anecdotes can be very powerful when illustrating a point, but they need to be backed up by facts, data and research which indicates the anecdote is representative of a larger truth.
These mistakes are easy to make, even for veteran writers. These fallacies though are the surest way to weaken writing, sense of capability and reputation. Leaps in logic are sometimes unavoidable, but the key is to add smooth transitions and linear thinking so the reader can follow the points without their suspicion being raised. If you are writing an important body of work, get an editor. Every writer needs an editor to help them highlight and piece together their shortcomings.
This all sounds rather scary, but its an inevitable part of the process of writing. All the Greats had ugly, poorly written first drafts that should never see the light of day. But they do see the light of day, with great reception, because they went through the process of snipping and pruning and getting the right set of eyes to aid them through the process.