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Excellent Writing Rules. For Example: “Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.”

This is good, from Frank L. Visco, originally published in the June 1986 Writer’s Digest.

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.”
  1. Comparisons are as bad as cliches.
  2. Don’t be redundant; don’t use more words than necessary; it’s highly superfluous.
  3. Profanity sucks.
  4. Be more or less specific.
  5. Understatement is always best.
  6. Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.
  7. One word sentences? Eliminate.
  8. Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake.
  9. The passive voice is to be avoided.
  10. Go around the barn at high noon to avoid colloquialisms.
  11. Even if a mixed metaphor sings, it should be derailed.
  12. Who needs rhetorical questions?

HT: John Barber

2 Comments

  1. Very clever! Writing rules made to be broken. Here’s what the Chicago Manual of Style says about prepositions: “The traditional caveat of yesteryear against ending sentences with prepositions is, for most writers, an unnecessary and pedantic restriction…A sentence that ends in a preposition may sound more natural than a sentence carefully constructed to avoid a final preposition…The ‘rule’ prohibiting terminal prepositions was an ill-founded superstition.”

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