Tag Archives: Writing

How to Write Real Good

I recently posted How to Write Wicked Good Papers (from the Biology Department of Union College) and just found an expanded version from plainlanguage.gov, who’s motto is “Improving Communication from the Federal Government to the Public.”  All of these seem to have originated with William Safire through his New York Times Magazine Column, On Language, and his recent book, How Not to Write: The Essential Misrules of Grammar (Norton, 2005).

Of those on this list, I particularly like (and often use): number 6 (see?); nombre diez es muy bueno; as Safire himself would have said “Number 12“; it also behooves me to list number 15; I like number 17 a little, but I like number 18 big time ; who wouldn’t like number 24; I think numbers 32 and 33 are redundant; but I like number 32 because I dislike being repetitive and number 33 for the same reason as the previous number; 36; number 42!!; and finally 

At any rate, and without further ado, here’s the skinny [list] on How to Write Real Good:

  1. Always avoid alliteration.
  2. Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.
  3. Avoid cliches like the plague-they’re old hat.
  4. Employ the vernacular.
  5. Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.
  6. Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are unnecessary.
  7. Parenthetical words however must be enclosed in commas.
  8. It is wrong to ever split an infinitive.
  9. Contractions aren’t necessary.
  10. Do not use a foreign word when there is an adequate English quid pro quo.
  11. One should never generalize.
  12. Eliminate quotations. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said: “I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.”
  13. Comparisons are as bad as cliches.
  14. Don’t be redundant; don’t use more words than necessary; it’s highly superfluous.
  15. It behooves you to avoid archaic expressions.
  16. Avoid archaeic spellings too.
  17. Understatement is always best.
  18. Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.
  19. One-word sentences? Eliminate. Always!
  20. Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake.
  21. The passive voice should not be used.
  22. Go around the barn at high noon to avoid colloquialisms.
  23. Don’t repeat yourself, or say again what you have said before.
  24. Who needs rhetorical questions?
  25. Don’t use commas, that, are not, necessary.
  26. Do not use hyperbole; not one in a million can do it effectively.
  27. Never use a big word when a diminutive alternative would suffice.
  28. Subject and verb always has to agree.
  29. Be more or less specific.
  30. Placing a comma between subject and predicate, is not correct.
  31. Use youre spell chekker to avoid mispeling and to catch typograhpical errers.
  32. Don’t repeat yourself, or say again what you have said before.
  33. Don’t be redundant.
  34. Use the apostrophe in it’s proper place and omit it when its not needed.
  35. Don’t never use no double negatives.
  36. Poofread carefully to see if you any words out.
  37. Hopefully, you will use words correctly, irregardless of how others use them.
  38. Eschew obfuscation.
  39. No sentence fragments.
  40. Don’t indulge in sesquipedalian lexicological constructions.
  41. A writer must not shift your point of view.
  42. Don’t overuse exclamation marks!!
  43. Place pronouns as close as possible, especially in long sentences, as of 10 or more words, to their antecedents.
  44. Writing carefully, dangling participles must be avoided.
  45. If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is.
  46. Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky.
  47. Everyone should be careful to use a singular pronoun with singular nouns in their writing.
  48. Always pick on the correct idiom.
  49. The adverb always follows the verb.
  50. Take the bull by the hand and avoid mixing metaphors.
  51. If you reread your work, you can find on rereading a great deal of repetition can be by rereading and editing.
  52. And always be sure to finish what
Write good.

...add to list: Learn to write real good.

Enjoy!

Rules for Writing Wicked Good Papers

Writing seems to be a minor theme this week.  I found these wicked good rules at the Union College site.  They were posted by the Biology Department.  I hope they will help:

  1. Shun and avoid the employment of unnecessary, excess extra words.
  2. Make certain all sentences are full and complete. If possible.
  3. Avoid cliches like the plague.
  4. Take pain’s to spell and, punctuate correctly.
  5. BE Consistent.
  6. Don’t approximate. Always be more or less precise.
  7. Sedulously eschew obfuscatory hyperverbosity or prolixity.
  8. Avoid pointless repetition, and don’t repeat yourself unnecessarily.
  9. Always try to remembr t he/E extreme importance of being accurit; ne at, and carfful.
  10. Don’t use no double negatives.
  11. Don’t never use no triple negatives.
  12. All generalizations are bad.
  13. Take care that your verb and subject is in agreement.
  14. A preposition is a bad thing to end a sentence with.
  15. Don’t use commas, which aren’t necessary.
  16. “Avoid overuse of ‘quotation’ marks.”
  17. Writing carefully, dangling participles must be avoided.
  18. And don’t start a sentence with a conjunction.
  19. Reserve the apostrophe for it’s proper use and omit it when its not necessary.
  20. Avoid run-on sentences they are hard to read.
  21. Proofread carefully to see if you any words out.
  22. Never use that totally cool, radically groovy out-of-date slang.
  23. Avoid those long sentences that just go on, and on, they never stop, they just keep rambling, and you really wish the person would just shut up, but no, they just keep on going, they’re worse than the Energizer Bunny, they babble incessantly, and these sentences, they just never stop.

Good writing!

Writing to Intimidate (or Academia, Here I Come!)

I had a professor during my teacher education days who loved to use many obscure words (I really do mean many) in very long sentences, then summarize what he just said by saying “…in other words,” and then use about five or six (simple) words to summarize.  Now, I realize that he was likely trying to increase our vocabulary by adding context to unfamiliar words, but I couldn’t help but think, “couldn’t you just use the other words?”

Although I believe the vast majority of professors really do have the best interest of their students in mind, I do believe there are some academic bullies out there as well.

 

The cartoon below seems to capture my thinking:

Enjoy!

The World’s Largest Book (at 5×7 feet)

The book is entitled, Bhutan: A Visual Odyssey Across the Last Himalayan Kingdom and weighs 133 pounds and is more than 5 x 7 feet. It is the largest published book in the world – and can be yours.  Each copy is printed on demand, uses a roll of paper longer than a football field, over a gallon of ink and takes 24 hours to print.  The 114 pages of photos feature life-sized (or bigger) people.

More information here.

It is currently for sale on Amazon at $30,000.  The purchase price is a donation to Friendly Planet . Each copy is numbered and can include a personal dedication message.

The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest (Bad Opening Sentences to Imaginary Novels)

Since there has been such an underwhelming response to an earlier post (One Sentence Romance Novels for Those Who Don’t Like to Read Romance Novels), I thought you might not want to read entries in the annual Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest - named for Edward George Earl Bulwer-Lytton, who penned the words (that Snoopy stole) “It was a dark and stormy night” to open his novel, Paul Clifford (1830).  The contest is for the best of the bad opening sentences to imaginary novels.

Here is this year’s winner:

Theirs was a New York love, a checkered taxi ride burning rubber, and like the city their passion was open 24/7, steam rising from their bodies like slick streets exhaling warm, moist, white breath through manhole covers stamped “Forged by DeLaney Bros., Piscataway, N.J.”

You can read more here (or not).

One Sentence Romance Novels for Those Who Don’t Like Romance Novels

My wife loves romance novels.  I don’t.  I thought I’d try my hand at writing a one sentence romance novel for those who (like me) don’t really like romance novels.

She was as hot as his Camero after an afternoon drive across the desert and he was as deep as the water he was standing in; together, their love was as beautiful as a bagpipe solo at a wedding.

The touching story above is my entry.  Would you like to try one?  You can use the same cover, or you can find another at Longmire does Romance Novels.

Let’s see what you’ve got.

Funny Metaphors from High School Essays

Original post: I found some metaphors that could prove helpful to an aspiring writer.  These were actually used in essays by high schoolers this past year.  High School English teachers collect these each year and publish them.  I found last year’s list at: http://help.com/post/124066-funny-metaphors-used-in-high-school

What I have since found (8.11.08): These were really submitted to a contest run by the Washington Post back in 1999.  Sorry for the initial inaccuracy.

Here are a few of my favorites:

  • She grew on him like she was a colony of E. Coli, and he was room temperature Canadian beef.
  • Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever.
  • He was as tall as a six-foot, three-inch tree.
  • Her hair glistened in the rain like a nose hair after a sneeze.
  • Long separated by cruel fate, the star-crossed lovers raced across the grassy field toward each other like two freight trains, one having left Cleveland at 6:36pm traveling at 55 mph, the other from Topeka at 4:19 pm at a speed of 35 mph.
  • The plan was simple, like my brother-in-law Phil.  But unlike Phil, this plan just might work.