Close your eyes for a moment and visualize the world’s most beautiful individual, at least in your opinion. Then answer this question: What makes that person so beautiful?
Bright green eyes set just so far apart? Perfectly formed lips? Stunning skin coloring? Satiny hair? High cheek bones? The list goes on. No matter how many physical attributes you mention, I guarantee you will miss some that impact your perception of that person’s beauty, such as certain subtle relationships between facial features and the way everything comes together to form an attractive whole.
Plus, you will not likely be able to put your finger on some appealing characteristics that are less tangible than hair color or the shape of the mouth – like that almost imperceptible widening of the eyes or quick tilting of the head. You’re probably not even aware of many of these things on a conscious level. But they are there and you notice them whether you consciously realize it or not.
Asking “What makes a good article,” is a lot like asking why someone looks beautiful to you. When you read the article, you will be aware of certain things you like about it (good information, easy to read and understand, concise), but you will not be able to put your finger on other elements that draw you to it. They are too subtle. Understated stylistic techniques, slight inflections of tone, the ability to maintain just the right amount of tension throughout the piece, and a plethora of additional elements and characteristics play important but often invisible roles in making an article “good” or “bad.”
You can’t apply a formula to this. It’s far too complex. If it could be formulized, machines would spit out wonderful articles in reams and article writers would be on the streets.
What you can do, however, is work on one way to improve your writing at a time. Work on pacing until you become a super-star at it. Work on content organization until you can do it in your sleep. Work on titles until you become a great title writer.
But whatever you do, do not overanalyze the article writing process. If you do you’ll be like the golfer or tennis player who returns from a long lesson with a pro only to find that she’s thinking so much about everything she learned that she can’t feel it anymore and can’t even take a decent swing.
Continuou improvements are crucial to success as a writer. (You can find a ton of things to work on on my blog site on real-world writing tips: http://thewritersbag.com.) But remember: over-analysis will paralyze you – and paralyzed writers never write good articles.