Twenty-Six Writing Tips from the Prose
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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Thu, 11 May 100 13:10:47 -0700
Subject: Twenty-Six Writing Tips from the Prose
X-Lib-of-Cong-ISSN: 1098-7649 -=[ Fun_People ]=-
[This is a classic; a version credited to Frank L. Visco was on Fun_People
five or six years ago (http://www.langston.com/Fun_People/1994/1994AZX.html),
and even though this version is only slightly changed (by myself and
others), it's such a good gimmick that any excuse to repeat it, especially
the implied possibility of actual improvement, will be grasped with as great
fervor as we cling to the liberating dictum (and this didn't come from the
little Strunk and White book or someplace like that, you know; I made it up
myself) "Write simply." -psl]
1. Avoid alliteration. Always.
2. Never use a long word when a diminutive one will do.
3. The adverb always follows the verb.
4. Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.
5. Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are unnecessary.
6. Remember to never split an infinitive.
7. Contractions aren't necessary.
8. Foreign words and phrases are not apropos.
9. One should never generalize.
10. Eliminate quotations. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "I hate quotations.
Tell me what you know."
11. Don't be redundant; don't use more words than necessary; it's highly
12. Be more or less specific.
13. One-word sentences? Eliminate.
14. The passive voice is to be avoided.
15. Even if a mixed metaphor sings, it should be derailed.
16. Who needs rhetorical questions?
17. Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.
18. Don't never fail to use a double negation.
19. Proofread carefully to see if you words out.
20. A writer must not shift your point of view.
21. And don't start a sentence with a conjunction. (Remember, too, a
preposition is a terrible word to end a sentence with.)
22. Don't overuse exclamation marks!!!!!!!
23. Writing carefully, dangling participles must be avoided.
24. Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky.
25. Never use a fancy word when a simple word could be utilized.
26. Last but not least, avoid cliches like the plague; they're old hat.
© 2000 Peter Langston