What is the Difference between よく書けた and よく書けている?

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Jan 3, 2012 13:31 Japanese_language 「ている」
~している is one of the difficult expressions to explain for learners of Japanese. More than a few native speakers say it is equivalent to “be doing” (progressive) in English, but I think it can be correct, but it is accidental and not real nature.

Though I can give you very limited examples, here is one. I want to hear about your comments. If a friend of yours writes an essay and you say it is well written:
よく書けた (a)
よく書けている (b)

The sentence (a) must carry the necessary information, but it actually sounds curt or as if you are saying you yourself wrote it well, not he/she did. Instead, the sentence (b) is common. It also can mean you wrote it, but it is not ambiguous. (Because the context definitely determines which it means. Being polysemous is not the same as being ambiguous. However, I don’t know exact technical terms of this.)

I think the difference between (a) and (b) is something like the one between direct and indirect discourses. The sentence (a) tells something as it is a subjective experience of the narrator. Instead, the one (b) tells something as it is an objective observation of the narrator.

By the way, よく書いた。 is as curt as よく書けた, and it is more vague than 書けた. It also can sound like you are great because you done (=finished) it.