In an interview with Brian Williams, Edward Snowden said, “I have no relationship with the Russian government at all.” Imagine if Snowden said, “I have no relationship with the Russian government.” Which sentence sounds more convincing? “The fact that Snowden made the strange and categorical insistence that they have no relationship at all…” Vox.com reports, “raises questions about why he would assert something so implausible.”
Rather, very, little, pretty, fairly, at all. Avoid these words. A sentence should speak for itself. Most qualifiers are counterproductive.
The word “this” should always refer to something.
I have trouble remembering the password for my computer. When this occurs, I have to call IT and ask for help.
I have trouble remembering the password for my computer. When this problem occurs, I have to call IT and ask for help.
This is difficult to remember. Ahem! This rule is difficult to remember.
A pet peeve of a professor I had in college. The word “use” can almost always replace “utilize.” Utilize sounds clunky and industrial.
A classic. Eliminating passive voice will improve your writing. Unfortunately, this is forgotten by most writers. Ahem!!! Most writers forget this rule.
A good writer writes just enough and lets the reader make his own discoveries. As La Rochefoucauld quipped, “As great minds have the ability to say much in few words, so, conversely, small minds have the gift of talking much and not saying anything.”
What sounds better?
I read this profile of Nassim Taleb in the New Yorker¸ where writer Malcolm Gladwell followed Taleb as part of a larger project to understand lucrative hedge funds and their inner workings.
Malcolm Gladwell profiled Nassim Taleb in the New Yorker to understand how hedge-funds work.
In other words, don’t write like the philosopher and gender theorist Judith Butler, who won an award for bad writing with this sentence:
The move from a structuralist account in which capital is understood to structure social relations in relatively homologous ways to a view of hegemony in which power relations are subject to repetition, convergence, and rearticulation brought the question of temporality into the thinking of structure, and marked a shift from a form of Althusserian theory that takes structural totalities as theoretical objects to one in which the insights into the contingent possibility of structure inaugurate a renewed conception of hegemony as bound up with the contingent sites and strategies of the rearticulation of power.
Still Interested? Check out A Communication Tip From a Legendary Screenwriting Coach.
“In a passage that could come from Clayton Christensen’s The Innovator’s Dilemma, Petroski writes that, ‘Even if a building is well designed structurally, it can still succumb to failure through no fault of its own.’”
Haven’t have time to read this year? We’ve got you covered.
A few months ago, I asked Dan Pink for book recommendations. He replied with an excellent list: “6 books on the Art and Science of Sales.” The second book on Pink’s list is Dale Carnegie’s How To Win Friends and Influence People, first published in 1936. Pink writes that “Some readers…