Wednesday, October 8, 2008

some writing tips

i have a few writing tips i'll present here.

some people say use fewer words. i say use fewer syllables.

for example, instead of motor vehicles, write cars and trucks. instead of concurrently, write at the same time.

while motor vehicles is a two-word phrase, it contains five syllables. cars and trucks contains three syllables.

write words that you would use in a conversation.

for example, instead of concurrently, write at the same time. each has four syllables, but most people would say the second phrase when talking.

this is related to number two -- don't use pretentious words.

here are some examples:
  • using concur for agree.
  • using iota for bit.
  • using in lieu of for instead of.
  • using albeit for even though or although.
  • using onus for burden.
i wonder why people do that. i believe it's done to impress people, although it doesn't impress us. what does impress us is simple, direct english. if you want examples, read robert frost, ernest hemingway, and george orwell.

it's often done by people who have yet to rid themselves of academia, which puts out some of the most pretentious english we've read.

and as bad as it is to read it, it's worse when some one says it in conversation. i look at them with disgust, as if they smelled of sweat and garbage.

when you're writing narrative prose, which most of the posts in this blog, use complete sentences with a subject, a verb, and, if one is needed, an object.

we go crazy when we read sentence fragments and one-word sentences in narrative prose.

but partial sentences are all right when writing dialogue, since people often talk like that.

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