How to write good

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Long ago, when I was first starting out in writing, I came across a ridiculous list of writing tips and advice that used ironic humor (which I adore!) to define how to be a better writer. Over the years, I kept building up that list with new finds and added a few of my own pet peeve contributions. To this day I still keep a copy of this page posted in my workspace, as sometimes a small laugh will help melt away temporary stress.

As this blog is also supposed to cover writing web content, I thought I’d have a little fun and share my list of advices on how to write good.

Here are several very important but often forgotten rules of English:

  1. Always avoid annoying alliteration.
  2. Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.
  3. And don’t start a sentence with a conjunction.
  4. Avoid clichés like the plague. (They’re old hat.)
  5. Comparisons are as bad as clichés.
  6. Employ the vernacular.
  7. Keep tabs on the use of idioms.
  8. Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.
  9. Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are (usually) unnecessary.
  10. It is wrong to ever split an infinitive.
  11. Contractions aren’t necessary and shouldn’t be used.
  12. Foreign words and phrases are not apropos.
  13. Only idiots make generalizations.
  14. Also too, never, ever, use repetitive redundancies.
  15. A writer must not shift your point of view.
  16. Eliminate quotations. As Emerson once said: “I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.”
  17. Profanity sucks.
  18. Corect speling is esential.
  19. Be more or less specific.
  20. Understatement is always best.
  21. Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.
  22. One-word sentences? Eliminate.
  23. Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake.
  24. Jims grammar book’s say you shouldnt use apostrophe’s with plural’s, but theyre proper with possessive’s and contraction’s.
  25. Never use a big word when a diminutive one would suffice.
  26. Place pronouns as close as possible, especially in long sentences, as of ten or more words, to their antecedents.
  27. Just between you and I, case is important.
  28. Kill all exclamation points!!!
  29. Don’t use no double negatives.
  30. If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times: Resist hyperbole; not one writer in a million can use it correctly.
  31. Eliminate commas, that are, not necessary. Parenthetical words however should be enclosed in commas.
  32. Use words correctly, irregardless of how others use them.
  33. Puns are for children, not for groan-ups.
  34. The adverb always follows the verb.
  35. The passive voice is to be avoided.
  36. Go around the barn at high noon to avoid colloquialisms.
  37. Even if a mixed metaphor sings, it should be derailed.
  38. Proofread carefully to see if you any words out.
  39. If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is.
  40. Who needs rhetorical questions?
  41. Don’t be redundant; don’t more use words than necessary; it’s highly superfluous.
  42. A subject should always agree with their predicate.
  43. Do not add emphasis UNLESS it is really, really necessary!
  44. Their are too many people who mix up they’re adjectives and pronouns with there contractions.
  45. Avoid run-on sentences, these are sentences that are strung together, they should be separated by periods.
  46. While sentence fragments are also bad.
  47. Writing carefully, dangling participles must be avoided.
  48. Try not two confuse the numeral too with its preposition and adverb homonyms to many times.
  49. Use an apostrophe with “it” in it’s proper place (as a contraction) and omit it when its not needed (as a possessive).
  50. Eschew obfuscation.
  51. To loose track of proper word usage will make people think you have a screw lose.
  52. Only use question marks with questions? How will anyone otherwise know you are asking a question.
  53. Sentences without verbs nonsense.
  54. Should have subject, too.

I’ll be back soon with more interesting, helpful, and fun thoughts! red diamond logo

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One Comment

  1. pmpm
    Posted April 26, 2011 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    Rick, Thanks this is very clever and fun to read.

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