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, 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.



4 responses to “How to Write Real Good

  1. As Ceaser would often say, “By the gods of Jupiter”, (this is a really, really, very long list!!!), might fat list have been the death of us?

    I, remember, Brutus saying, “Yea, Ceasar oft said thus!!!”
    Thanks for playing.

  2. My name is Jennifer and I abuse the exclamation point. Number 42 shames me… 🙂

    “…literally,” said Don.

  3. ..and Don I should be banned as I have stooped following any or all rules, shame on mee two 😉

    e.e. cummings (and others) would be proud.

  4. I am guilty of #50. I can never get the saying right. (6 dozen of one, 1/2 of another 0r is the other way around)! Also, what’s wrong with exclamation marks??!!! I dig on those things! See?!?!

    …and apparently question marks!! Right??!! I’m more into … (and)

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