Surely you’re familiar with the old adage, “Opinions are like belly buttons: Everyone has one.” (Thought: If we have more than one opinion, does that mean we have more than one belly button? But I digress.) That adage certainly holds true for writers -- especially when it comes to what makes great writing. Should a sentence be spare? Pared down to its purest essence – à la Hemingway? Or do we prefer the more esoteric, labyrinthine route to get to a point – a style oft favoured by academes? So many styles! So many ways to write! Nevertheless, there are a few basic guidelines that, no matter our writing style, can make even a pedestrian “note to self” sound like deathless prose. Below are the rules that every single one of us must, without fail, always follow.
How to Write Good
1. Avoid alliteration. Always.
2. Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.
3. Avoid clichés like the plague. They’re old hat.
4. Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.
5. One should never generalize.
6. Comparisons are as bad as clichés.
7. Be more or less specific.
8. Sentence fragments? Eliminate.
9. Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.
10. Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are unnecessary.
11. Who needs rhetorical questions?
APRIL FOOLS! (Although some of those pointers ain’t bad!)
The above list of writing rules was brought to my attention by IWOC Board Member Terry Nugent, who filched it off the internet. Thanks for the lol’s, Terry! Of course, if you’d like to add to the list, please do so in the comment section. Click the dots next to the headline to enter your rule(s). If we get enough entries, we’ll publish them in the May edition of Stet!
Here’s my contribution:
12. Double negatives are a no-no.
-- Laura Stigler
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