Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Rules for writing ...

I found this a while back but finally I'm managing to post it ...

1. The passive voice is to be avoided.
2. Avoid alliteration. Always.
3. Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.
4. Avoid clichés like the plague (they're old hat.)
5. Comparisons are as bad as clichés too.
6. Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are unnecessary.
7. Contractions aren't necessary either.
8. Never generalise.
9. Be more or less specific.
10. Don't be redundant - don't use more words than
necessary because it's highly superfluous.
11. Eliminate quotations. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said:
"I hate quotations. Tell me what you know."
12. Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.
13. Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake.
14. Even if a mixed metaphor sings, it should be derailed.
15. Who needs rhetorical questions anyway?
16. Always sue a spell hcecker.

Of course this is a parody of E. A. Blair's short but memorable list of rules for (political) writing, which is in turn part of an essay:

1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech
which you are used to seeing in print.
2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.
5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word,
or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
6. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

Unfortunately, poor Mr Blair fell into the old trap of imagining that politics was the most important human pursuit that could or even should command ultimate human allegiance. He was a shrewd commentator on human affairs, all the same.

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