Friday, September 21, 2007

HOW TO WRITE GOOD

Hey, I'm late, but I'm here. That's something, I guess, after over a month of non-blogging while we worked on building a deck and painting our house. We got most of the house painting done before my DH broke his ankle, but that's a whole nother story.

Anyway, today's blog is something of a copout, but I hope not a let down. It's from a funny email forward from my aunt, and not anything original by me at all. But, I got a kick out of it, and I hope you will too.

So, without further ado, here is How To Write Good by Frank L. Vico. Thanks, Frank, whoever the heck you are, for helping me out today. My cowgirl hat's off to you, man.




My several years in the word game have learnt me several rules:

1... Avoid alliteration. Always.

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... It is wrong to ever split an infinitive.

8... Contractions aren't necessary

9... Foreign words and phrases are not apropos.

10... One should never generalize.

11... Eliminate quotations. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said:
"I hate quotations. Tell me what you know."

12... Comparisons are as bad as cliches.

13... Don't be redundant; don't use more words than necessary;
I mean, like, you know, it's highly superfluous.

14... Profanity sucks.

15... Be more or less specific.

16... Understatement is always best.

17... Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.

18... One-word sentences? Eliminate.

19... Analogies in writing are like, you know, feathers on a snake.

20... The passive voice is to be avoided.

21... Go around the barn at high noon to avoid colloquialisms.

22... Even if a mixed metaphor sings, it should be derailed.

23... Who needs rhetorical questions?


Do you have any other writing "rules" to add? And how many of these rules do you love to break? I lost count after a dozen. Ha!

19 comments:

Piper Lee said...

ROFL...

I've seen these before and they're a hoot!

I like to break some of them on purpose because it makes life much more fun and interesting.

Thanks for the giggles, Danita!

Alice Sharpe said...

Danita -- Good to have you back on the blog -- you've been missed.

I am so glad to hear you say you have broken more than a couple of these rules. I know I have. But what a clever way to say them. I didn't understand the split infinitive one so someone explain that to me, please. The rest are more memorable than rules presented in the usual way "Thou shall not use passive voice!!!!" (Peal of thunder, clap of lightening.)

Thanks for a chuckle. And thanks to you, too, Frank, off there in cyber space. I don't have a hat to wave your direction, so consider this a wink. Oh, and thanks to Danita's auntie.

Paty Jager said...

Funny! Of course I'm slow this morning and had to read a couple of them twice to get it! I know where's the big L for my forehead! LOL

I think I've broke all of them at some point in my writing. But then aren't rules meant to be broken??

Good blog, Danita! Glad to have you back!

Danita Cahill said...

Piper, so happy to supply you with giggles. ha!

As for your post Wednesday, I agree, there's nothing like hanging out with writer friends to get the creative juices flowing, huh? I don't IM because I'm still a backwards country bumpkin with old-fashioned dial up...but I do like to email back and forth with my writer friends, talk to some of them on the phone, and send an occasional card of encouragement.

It was a good blog, sorry you got so sick of looking at it!

Danita Cahill said...

Alice,

I think I've broken about every one of those rules. And I have to admit, there were a couple which didn't make complete sense to me either. As for the split infinitive -- the sentence said "It is wrong to ever split an infinitive". The word "ever" was the splitter. To make it a "proper" sentence, it should read: It is wrong to split an infinitive, ever.

Sometimes splitting infinitives is the best way to make a meaning clear, however. (Notice I didn't say "make a meaning however clear". Ha!) Notice I am also using quotes and parenthesis...which proves my point -- rules are made to break!

Good to be back on the blogometer too. Thank you.

Danita Cahill said...

Paty,
Like I mentioned to Alice, I didn't get a couple of them, no matter how many times I read them. But that's the joy of posting something someone else wrote, I can just pretend like I totally get it. Ha!

Lori Barber said...

Danita - Enjoyed the humor, but had to steal the big L from Paty to slap on my forehead...that's why she couldn't find it. Had to read a couple more than once and still not sure.

Yes, I've broken most, if not all of them too. Some on purpose.

Lori

Alice Sharpe said...

Lori, two days in a row, be still my heart.

How was your trip?

Lori Barber said...

Alice - Hey, Hey, (as they greet you in Sweden...though I may not have the spelling correct.) We had a wonderful time and we love our new car. Put almost 1,200 miles on it. Many going around and around those round abouts...what a hoot. Got to the point every time we missed our exit we just laughed and said, "We're going around again!"

Volvo really treats you right. They paid for 2 round trip airfare tickets, 1 night in a 4 star hotel, a fabulous breakfast included, lunch the next day, free tour of the manufacturing plant, full tank of gas, 15 days of car insurance, and shipment of our car to our dealership. I'd recommend the program to anyone and we would do it again in a heartbeat. Our car should arrive Oct. 29th.

The weather was cold and rainy off and on most days. We reached 70 degrees 1 day. We went through several castles, a glass museum, and took lots of country drives.

We went to Denmark the end of our trip for two days. Arrived in Copenhagen and hit their 200th year celebration of the British bombarding Denmark. Pure gridlock ...people everywhere.

That night our son broke out in hives. Took him to the emergency hospital. He's allergic to something. He broke out 2 days later, much worse this time, and ended up in the hospital over night. This 2nd bout happened while we were flying home. We got word the next day. Then he broke out again a week later, body covered with hives. He rushed to the emergency hospital, as ordered. They're going to do scratch tests on Tuesday to find the culprit. Our son thinks it might be orange juice, possibly anything citrus.

It was hard to say good bye to him. We kept in daily contact the first week we were home to make sure he was going to be alright.

I had a terrible time with my internal clock both ways. I got so tired I couldn't sleep. I was a mess. I think I'm finally straightened out. My husband did much better.

We didn't take our laptop. I've finally made my way through hundred's of emails and begun writing again!

Lori

Karen Duvall said...

Good to see you again, Danita! 8^)

Hey, I have a couple to add. You know I can never pass up a good word game. Snort.

But you should never start a sentence with "but" or "and." And don't you forget it.

Beware of using too much of a good thing... you know what I mean... like elipses, which are cool in moderation... it's still possible to take it too far.

Okay, that's all I got on the spur of the moment. This last one about elipses, one of my clients is the worst abuser. I design her ads, but I also edit her ad copy. Lord have mercy. It's like erasing freckles.

Wow, Lori, sounds like a fab trip! Makes me want to go out and buy a Volvo. I hope your son figures out what's causing his hives. Good to see you on the blog! 8^)

Alice Sharpe said...

Lori -- Your trip sounds wonderful! I, too, hope they figure out what is causing your son's hives. Ack!

Piper Lee said...

No matter how hard I've tried, I just don't get #4.

And Lori! You're trip sounds awesome! But I feel so bad for your son!

Oops! Karen, I'm breaking your rules. LOL

I LOVE BREAKING RULES...sometimes.

Piper Lee said...

Barbara--

I went back and answered your question on the Butt-In blog I did before Danita posted this post.

It was the one about cover quotes. In case you wanted to know. :)

Karen Duvall said...

Piper, I have no rules. I start sentences with "but" and "and" all the time, LOL!

Danita Cahill said...

Wow, Lori. What a great trip (minus the hives and the jet lag) And a bonus of a new -- well, slightly used now, ha! -- car to boot. Very cool.

Glad you're safely back and sleeping again. Hope your son's hives stop. How worrisome.

Danita Cahill said...

Piper, I have to be honest here -- I don't get number four either. Guess I need to look up vernacular.

Okay, my Webster's says it is using the local language. Which makes the rule on colloquielism sp? obsolete, doesn't it? Rules are so blasted stupid sometimes.

Danita Cahill said...

Karen,
enjoyed your additions to the list. Thanks!

Elisabeth Naughton said...

Ha! Too funny.

Lisa Pulliam said...

Great list! Hahahahaha! I think the profanity rule is the one I break the most...I love to use contractions as well. The only times I don't is to show characterization, like a 1,000 year old vampire ;) Man o man I break a lot of those rules. I think most of my favorite books break most of those rules too.