Correct English sentences are formed of some basic rules that start simple but allow a lot room for manoeuvre. Especially true of more complex, longer sentences, we have many options to rearrange what has been written, and to explore varieties in word order. This is useful if you want to restate something, to add some variety, or to add emphasis to particular points – all options when you want to present the same information, just a little…different. I decided to produce an article exploring basic word order in a more advanced way, originally aimed at foreign learners – but I think this has a place here, too, to show how a solid grasp of the fundamentals of English word order can offer a lot of room for creativity. So, here I’ve demonstrated how a single example sentence can be deconstructed and reconstructed. Over and over again… Continue reading
If you’re reading this from America, you probably know both these books. Otherwise they might have passed you by. Personally, I discovered them quite late, by which time I already adhered to most of the principles in them. However, they summarise a lot of my views on writing clear and concise English language, so much so that I thought it worth blogging them here. Already famous in America, The Elements of Style was labelled one of the All-Time 100 Nonfiction Books by Time magazine – that is, one of the most influential books written in English since 1923. Otherwise called the Strunk and White (after its authors), this prescriptive language book is often forced upon students for its simple and effective rules. They are sometimes contentious, but mostly on point. The second book I want to highlight is Writing That Works, a business writing guide that novelist Louis Begley called “the Strunk and White of business writing” and famed advertiser David Ogilvy gave as his number 1 advertising tip: “read it three times”. Writing that Works is a similar style guide, from some of Madison Avenue’s most successful advertisers, and gives rules specific to communication. Continue reading
This quick list of 6 proofreading tips and techniques will help improve find errors in a text and lead to better writing. I’ve learnt a thing or two about how to accurately proofread for mistakes through painstakingly picking back and forth over my own writing, and through occasional professional proofreading ventures, and mostly I’ve learnt that it’s not always easy – these tips help.
“How do you do write so many books?” I’m often asked, over the tip of a wine glass at a high-grade business event. Or “How do you write so fast?” Whatever my answer, the response is usually “Oh I wish I could write a book,” without much care for what I actually say. So my usual response is “I don’t know. It just happens.” But that’s actually a carefully engineered lie to avoid an extensive explanation that people at high-grade business events don’t really want to hear. In fact, I do know how to write a book. It’s a delicate and complicated process that I make look easy. Because I did the hard work a long, long time ago. Continue reading
This is a recreated book review that I wrote a while back. When I finished reading this book, I wrote in the front of it that This is the most rewarding book you will ever read. and left it on a bookshelf in Fiji, dreaming that someone would go through the effort of reading the whole thing based only on my comment. I doubt anyone’s picked it up since then – Fiji is a strange and frightening place. I stand by what I wrote, though, because Middlemarch will give you more than a story. It’ll give you a better appreciation for humanity.