John Gordon Ross

A Man for All Reasons

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Some Guidelines for Aspiring Writers

November 15th, 2008 · No Comments

Found on the web pages of Norman Fenton, a University of London researcher whose “Improving Your Technical Writing” I much recommend (and is by no means only applicable to technical writing – you can find it here). The guidlines are not to be taken as seriously:
Some Guidelines for Aspiring Writers

1. Verbs has to agree with their subjects.
2. Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.
3. And don’t start a sentence with a conjunction.
4. It is wrong to ever split an infinitive.
5. Avoid cliches like the plague. (They’re old hat).
6. Also, always avoid annoying alliteration.
7. Also too, never, ever use repetitive redundancies.
8. Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are (usually) unnecessary.
9. One should never generalise.
10. Comparisons are as bad as cliches.
11. Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake.
12. The passive voice is to be avoided.
13. Eliminate commas, that are not necessary.
14. Never use a big word when a diminutive one will suffice.
15. Understatement is always the absolute best way to put forward earthshaking ideas.
16. use the apostrophe in it’s proper place and omit it when its not needed.
17. Eliminate quotations. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.”
18. Even if a mixed metaphor sings, it should be derailed.
19. Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.
20. Proof-read carefully to see if you any words out.

Norman’s cv is here, if you’re looking for a professor of computing and expert in risk assessment and decision analysis with a great writing style and a sense of humour.

Tags: Writing

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