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BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?

katlaughing 23 Aug 07 - 02:08 PM
Dave the Gnome 23 Aug 07 - 02:17 PM
M.Ted 23 Aug 07 - 02:37 PM
Rapparee 23 Aug 07 - 02:38 PM
Alba 23 Aug 07 - 03:04 PM
GUEST,Ian cookieless 23 Aug 07 - 03:06 PM
gnu 23 Aug 07 - 03:14 PM
gnu 23 Aug 07 - 03:18 PM
Joe Offer 23 Aug 07 - 03:21 PM
gnu 23 Aug 07 - 03:26 PM
John Hardly 23 Aug 07 - 03:29 PM
Ebbie 23 Aug 07 - 03:39 PM
Amos 23 Aug 07 - 03:43 PM
gnu 23 Aug 07 - 03:49 PM
alanabit 23 Aug 07 - 03:54 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 23 Aug 07 - 03:57 PM
John Hardly 23 Aug 07 - 04:41 PM
Bonzo3legs 23 Aug 07 - 04:43 PM
Rapparee 23 Aug 07 - 04:57 PM
GUEST,Seiri Omaar 23 Aug 07 - 04:58 PM
Ebbie 23 Aug 07 - 05:12 PM
Uncle_DaveO 23 Aug 07 - 05:14 PM
Uncle_DaveO 23 Aug 07 - 05:17 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 23 Aug 07 - 05:20 PM
GUEST,leeneia 23 Aug 07 - 05:29 PM
Dave the Gnome 23 Aug 07 - 05:30 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 23 Aug 07 - 05:34 PM
GUEST,Don Firth (computer still in the shop) 23 Aug 07 - 05:37 PM
Uncle_DaveO 23 Aug 07 - 05:38 PM
alanabit 23 Aug 07 - 05:39 PM
katlaughing 23 Aug 07 - 06:13 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 23 Aug 07 - 08:02 PM
katlaughing 23 Aug 07 - 09:14 PM
bobad 23 Aug 07 - 09:20 PM
Little Hawk 23 Aug 07 - 09:38 PM
Amos 23 Aug 07 - 09:48 PM
Little Hawk 23 Aug 07 - 10:02 PM
Rapparee 23 Aug 07 - 10:11 PM
Little Hawk 23 Aug 07 - 10:14 PM
Amos 23 Aug 07 - 10:25 PM
GUEST,mg 23 Aug 07 - 10:43 PM
GUEST,Don Firth (computer, etc.) 23 Aug 07 - 11:26 PM
Lonesome EJ 24 Aug 07 - 02:32 AM
Dave the Gnome 24 Aug 07 - 02:52 AM
s&r 24 Aug 07 - 06:18 AM
Rapparee 24 Aug 07 - 09:22 AM
Uncle_DaveO 24 Aug 07 - 09:54 AM
katlaughing 24 Aug 07 - 10:08 AM
jonm 24 Aug 07 - 10:29 AM
Dave the Gnome 24 Aug 07 - 04:32 PM

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Subject: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: katlaughing
Date: 23 Aug 07 - 02:08 PM

I am testing for a freelance editing job and was asked this question. I'll post my short answer, later. In the meantime, how would you answer this question?


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 23 Aug 07 - 02:17 PM

As long as it makes linguistic sense and holds the readers attention - None!

D.


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: M.Ted
Date: 23 Aug 07 - 02:37 PM

Good writing is clear and direct. And brief.


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: Rapparee
Date: 23 Aug 07 - 02:38 PM

Clarity, brevity, and wit (in every sense of that word).


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: Alba
Date: 23 Aug 07 - 03:04 PM

I would suggest reading some of the posts on the Mudcat Bad Writing Contest Health Warning: Might be an idea NOT to read every example on that Thread as one can only handle so much bad writing!! By reading few of the posts there you will find yourself becoming VERY aware of the absolutely never do's when it comes to writing ...*Grin*
If the above sounds like more than even the most hardened reader could take then.....
It might be more pleasant to just read a lovely Book by Author Kat LaFrance called 'Wind Words of Wyoming'....You'lle get the drift about the absolutes right there..:)

Love to All
Jude


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: GUEST,Ian cookieless
Date: 23 Aug 07 - 03:06 PM

Avoid cliches.


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: gnu
Date: 23 Aug 07 - 03:14 PM

Hmmmm. That's a poser. Perhaps I should refrain from being pedantic. However, I know you will appreciate constructive criticism in humourous form. Sooooooo.... perhaps you meant to ask, "What are the absolutes of writing well?

Sorry. I couldn't resist. I hope you did see the humour and that all is well and good.

Of course, the fact of the matter is old grammar rules and definitions are broken down every day. Modern writing is not so confined as my "example". I highly recommend realtively new texts dealing with "modern effective writing". While there are many simplistic changes as of late, such as "Here is..." instead of "Enclosed please find...", many of the texts delve much further into the topics raised in the posts above and are worth reading.

An engineering professor who taught me at Uni used to give us writing exercises that were gruelling! For example, he forbade the use of the word "the" in one research report. (Oops.... For example, he forbade use of the word "the" in one research report.) And, there were others. "That" was never allowed at any time. Paragraphs limited to three sentences.... etc... excellent brain exercise. Especially for lydexics me like.


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: gnu
Date: 23 Aug 07 - 03:18 PM

Oh yeah. I've posted this many times before.... and, if you are to be an editor, maybe you can help to rid the world of, "I will try AND do..." It IS, "I will try TO do..." Makes my skin crawl.


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 23 Aug 07 - 03:21 PM

If you don't know how to use an apostrophe, don't use it. Too many apostrophes make you look far stupider than too few.

Stamp out extraneous apostrophe's apostrophes!

Oh, I suppose you could argue that I'm talking about good grammar and not good writing - but I think a reasonable ability in grammar is absolutely necessary for a writer. So, grammar is an absolute. Otherwise, you look dumb.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: gnu
Date: 23 Aug 07 - 03:26 PM

Heheheheehee!


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: John Hardly
Date: 23 Aug 07 - 03:29 PM

One thing that is constantly being hammered home to me about writing...

The most important thing about writing is having something worth writing about. Content.

The next most important thing about good (sorry, gnu, but it's an adjective modifying a noun) writing is knowing how to make the writing as transparent as possible. If you don't know the rules of grammar well enough to accomplish this (I usually don't), then you better have some other really good rule-breakers that folks find enjoyable.

Finally, if you don't have content that's worth writing about, then you need to have a few good tricks up your sleeve to make a silk purse out of the sow's ear you've been handed.

I've read some pretty good silk purses that began their lives as sow's ears.


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: Ebbie
Date: 23 Aug 07 - 03:39 PM

I think the 'flow' from one sentence to another makes the difference between a book well worth reading and a book that is almost too much effort. I will read a first person account that may use clumsy and fragmented sentences and thoughts but only if it is on a subject that I find compelling. I much prefer graceful writing.

Who was it who said: Forgive the length of this letter; I didn't have time to write a short one.

I agree with those who say that clarity and pithiness are essentials of good writing. I can't always do it but I know it when I see it. *g


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: Amos
Date: 23 Aug 07 - 03:43 PM

Cleave to brevity; cleave to the Anglo-Saxon; cleave to the ineluctable; stimulate thought and pictures.

And remember that absolutes are unobtainable.



A


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: gnu
Date: 23 Aug 07 - 03:49 PM

I stand corrected. But, I ain't never gonna tell me mum the difference if she ever corrects me again. Even tho I outweigh her by a good hunnert pounds, she's well bigger 'n me.

My apologies, darlin.

gnuslinkingawayinshame


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: alanabit
Date: 23 Aug 07 - 03:54 PM

As an occasional translator, I would be happy if someone were to impress upon Germans the diference between a sentence and a paragraph. Too much of the drivel, which I have to unravel, is written by people who have a disticnct aversion to using full stops.


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 23 Aug 07 - 03:57 PM

I'm with ebbie on flow. If I'm reading something and i suddenly hit an awkward phrase, it stops me cold. A recent example in a book I'm reading right now by a writer who I value as high as anyone: "She could hear him smile from the other room." C'mon!!!!!! What, he has really bad braces and they click when he smiles?

And while you're at it, I'd appreciate it if people would take it easy on adjectives.

My favorite book on writing is Bird By Bird by Amm Lamott. The book is hilarious and wise.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: John Hardly
Date: 23 Aug 07 - 04:41 PM

"She could hear him smile from the other room."

Nice turn of phrase. I don't mean to be contrarian, and maybe it doesn't fir the flow of the rest of the text, but I am reminded of hearing a radio guy once say that it was very important for him to learn that his radio audience could tell when he was smiling. It made me start noticing the same thing -- that even a singing voice will reflect a smile. Listen to John Pizzarelli some time. You can definitely "hear him smile from the other room".


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 23 Aug 07 - 04:43 PM

End all sentences with a preposition!


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: Rapparee
Date: 23 Aug 07 - 04:57 PM

Try, try very very hard, to know the difference between "it's" and "its". (Hint: one is an exception to the rule that an "'s" is used to denote ownership.)


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: GUEST,Seiri Omaar
Date: 23 Aug 07 - 04:58 PM

1. Good grammar. Already discussed. And Jerry, SPOT ON about adjectives.
2. Good flow. Already discussed. But spice it up every once in a while.
3. No cliches (unless trying to be cheesy). Next.
4. No long paragraphs of unnecessary description. Being bored to sleep is NOT a goal in writing.
5. Albert Camus' L'Etranger is NOT good writing, in either English or French. *shudders*
6. Minimal or no plot holes. Minimal or no holes in arguments.
7. If you can read the last few pages of a novel and have a good idea about the story as a whole, it is likely bad writing.
8. Be concise, be brief, don't use big words just for using big words.
9. Repetition is good. But don't overwhelm the reader with it (ie. No Great Mischief). Then it is just annoyance and page filler.
10. Consistency in style (unless TRYING to call the reader to something. Know the rules before you break 'em).
11. Proper quotations... PLEASE!

I'd rant some more, but thinking about this stuff makes my brain want to beat its way out of my skull.


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: Ebbie
Date: 23 Aug 07 - 05:12 PM

This thread is fun to read!

I agree with John Hardly about 'hearing' someone smile from the other room ONLY if the someone is speaking. One can hear the smile in someone's voice but it is well nigh impossible to hear it if they are silent. *grin* (loudly)


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 23 Aug 07 - 05:14 PM

Alanabit told us:

I would be happy if someone were to impress upon Germans the diference between a sentence and a paragraph.

I would be happy if someone were to impress upon Germans the difference between a word and a paragraph!

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 23 Aug 07 - 05:17 PM

The absolutes of good writing?

It's extremely important that it be expressed in words, and rendered in writing or printing!

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 23 Aug 07 - 05:20 PM

Ineluctable is Anglo-Saxon? Them damn roamin' Romans more likely! And those Norman frogs were just as bad!

And don't start a sentence with and.


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 23 Aug 07 - 05:29 PM

Variety in the length and complexity of sentences. Intelligent use of connectors (conjunctions, howevers, therefores, etc). Big vocabulary. The courage not to be stuffy.

When I was in high school, I was required to memorize the list of subordinating conjunctions. It has been an aid to writing and thinking ever since.

Best of luck in your job quest, kat.


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 23 Aug 07 - 05:30 PM

avoid bollox. and text spk. and not using capital letters...

:D


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 23 Aug 07 - 05:34 PM

In the book, the person smiling (as assumed) didn't make a sound. I can understand someone envisioning someone smiling, knowing that they'd react in that manner if they hear something. But "hearing" something when there is no sound seemed too showy for my taste. This from a writer who is endlessly inventive.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: GUEST,Don Firth (computer still in the shop)
Date: 23 Aug 07 - 05:37 PM

A copy of The Elements of Style, by William Strunk Jr. and E. B. White. Also, a good dictionary, a good thesaurus, and a good style manual.

To be a successful selling writer, Robert A. Heinlein came up with five very good rules:
1. You must write.
2. You must finish what you write.
3. You must not revise what you write except at editorial request.*
4. You must submit what you write.
5. You must keep submitting it until it sells.
Sounds about right.

*The one thing I disagreed with on this list was item 3, about revising. Then I read an explanation of what Heinlein meant:   don't keep fussing and tinkering with the piece or you might never finish it. Get it done! Computers, as great as they are for editing, can be a trap if you let them be. I found that what I have to do to avoid this trap is (with the excepting of correcting typos and other obvious goofs as I write), don't stop to rewrite anything. Speed write. Don't stop to revise, rewrite, or edit until you have the piece finished. Then you can go back, read it over, and start changing words, moving phrases, rewriting sentences, and such.

I learned this the hard way. Editing on the computer is so easy that I would write a paragraph, read it over, and then start changing or moving words and phrases and sentences. After several hours, I would have one lousy paragraph. Brilliant, glowing prose! But only one paragraph! Then, the following day I'd pull it up on the screen and read it over, and . . . nowhere near as brilliant as I thought it was! That's when I started to blaze through and complete a first draft before I went back to revise and edit.

My stuff is selling a bit. I have about twenty articles published so far.

And, lemme see, there was one other thing. . . .   Oh, yeah. Brevity!

I'm still working on that one.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 23 Aug 07 - 05:38 PM

Hearing the smile in the next room, precisely because it's impossible, is an effective use of hyperbole. You just know the fellow had one hell of a smile!

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: alanabit
Date: 23 Aug 07 - 05:39 PM

LOL Uncle Dave! I note that in a thread about good writing, I have had the misfortune to type the word "diffference" with one less "f" than it requires!


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: katlaughing
Date: 23 Aug 07 - 06:13 PM

I KNEW there'd be a great discussion of this at Mudcat! Thanks, folks! Thanks, esp. to Alba for the *endorsement* and gnudarlin' for being a gracious darlin'...and leeneia for the well wishes. It's a freelance job reading manuscripts to see if they are "worthy." They gave me a neat list of requirements and rating points to add up for the sample ones. They were really awful and I gave them a "reject."

Don, I agree with Heinlein and one of the best books on writing which I have ever read is "On Writing" by Stephen King.

Here's what I sent them:

Good writing must make sense with appropriate use of language. It must intrigue, engage, be coherent, inspire, delight, awaken images in one's mind and sometimes, in one's heart and soul, and be based on a solid premise.


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 23 Aug 07 - 08:02 PM

That's great, Kat: You got the job..

Jerry


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: katlaughing
Date: 23 Aug 07 - 09:14 PM

Thanks, Jerry, I hope so!:-) I love to help folks figure out what it is they want to say.


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: bobad
Date: 23 Aug 07 - 09:20 PM

George Orwell: 12 Writing Tips

Orwell George Orwell has earned the right to be called one of the finer writers in the English language through such novels as 1984 and Animal Farm, such essays as "Shooting an Elephant," and his memoir Down and Out in Paris.

George expressed a strong dislike of totalitarian governments in his work, but he was also passionate defender of good writing. Thus, you may want to hear some of George's writing tips.*

A scrupulous writer, in every sentence that he writes, will ask himself at least four questions, thus:

   1. What am I trying to say?
   2. What words will express it?
   3. What image or idiom will make it clearer?
   4. Is this image fresh enough to have an effect?

And he will probably ask himself two more:

   1. Could I put it more shortly?
   2. Have I said anything that is avoidably ugly?

One can often be in doubt about the effect of a word or a phrase, and one needs rules that one can rely on when instinct fails. I think the following rules will cover most cases:

   1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
   2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
   3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
   4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.
   5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
   6. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.   

* From "Politics and the English Language" by George Orwell.


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 23 Aug 07 - 09:38 PM

1. Bloviate excessively, making sure to use as many exotic and arcane words as you possibly can. Use really BIG words and really RARE words. This will stun the reader with awe at your knowledge and erudition.

2. Elaborate, elaborate, elaborate! I cannot stress this too highly. Where a word or two will suffice, a veritable flood of them is always better.

3. Use the word "like" as often as possible, even when you're not sure if, like, it should be there. (Example: "I'm like, whatever!" exclaimed Sir Walter Raleigh to the Queen. "He's like, whatever," said the Queen later that evening to her minister of justice. "I'm like, chop off his, head!" "I'm like, consider it done," replies the minister, licking his, like, lips with anticipation. "I'm like, scuppered!" exclaims Sir Walter, as they, like, haul him off in chains to the, like, Tower.)

Note: That is how young people talk nowadays. I was sitting next to a table of 20-somethings today at the Sushi bar, and I swear, they were talking just like that! I swan! ;-) So if you want your writing to appeal to younger people, use "like" at least once in every sentence.

4. Make verbs out of nouns. Make nouns out of verbs. NEVER use adverbs, just replace them with adjectives.

5. Hyphenate frequently. Hyphenated words carry much more authority than non-hyphenated words do.

6. Make sure that all your plural's have apostrophe's. It's not good grammar to use an apostrophe in a plural, but it is popular, and popularity is what really matters in this world. Fuck grammar! Go for popular acceptance every time. Examples: CD's, shoe's, pickle's, 1900's, walruse's.

7. Use popular, well-known buzzword's and phrase's, like....

"Let's run it up the flagpole and see if anyone salutes!"
"let's take the ball and run with it!"
"I don't want to see anyone drop the ball!"
"Money talks, bullshit walks!"
"Now, let's get out there and kick ass!"
"You go, girl!"
"Have you mistaken me for someone who cares?"

Your casual and jaunty use of these clever contemporary phrases will show all that you are a mover and a shaker, a person on the inside track, definitely someone to be taken seriously in today's competitive environment.


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: Amos
Date: 23 Aug 07 - 09:48 PM

The finest way to learn what makes good writing is to put your butt in the chair and write...write much...write often. If you have nothing to say, write about the nothing that you have to say. Describe, report, speculate, converse.

Write as though composing a letter to favorite, trusted aunt.

A


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 23 Aug 07 - 10:02 PM

Like my Aunt Lucrecia...


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: Rapparee
Date: 23 Aug 07 - 10:11 PM

If you're writing fiction you can't go too far wrong with the laws laid down by Mark Twain in his essay on James Fenimore Cooper's literary sins.

Here are some other things he said about writing:

You need not expect to get your book right the first time. Go to work and revamp or rewrite it. God only exhibits his thunder and lightning at intervals, and so they always command attention. These are God's adjectives. You thunder and lightning too much; the reader ceases to get under the bed, by and by.
- Letter to Orion Clemens, 3/23/1878

The time to begin writing an article is when you have finished it to your satisfaction. By that time you begin to clearly and logically perceive what it is that you really want to say.
- Mark Twain's Notebook, 1902-1903

To get the right word in the right place is a rare achievement. To condense the diffused light of a page of thought into the luminous flash of a single sentence, is worthy to rank as a prize composition just by itself...Anybody can have ideas--the difficulty is to express them without squandering a quire of paper on an idea that ought to be reduced to one glittering paragraph.
- Letter to Emeline Beach, 2/10/1868

I notice that you use plain, simple language, short words and brief sentences. That is the way to write English - it is the modern way and the best way. Stick to it; don't let fluff and flowers and verbosity creep in. When you catch an adjective, kill it. No, I don't mean utterly, but kill most of them - then the rest will be valuable. They weaken when they are close together. They give strength when they are wide apart. An adjective habit, or a wordy, diffuse, flowery habit, once fastened upon a person, is as hard to get rid of as any other vice.
- Letter to D. W. Bowser, 3/20/1880

A successful book is not made of what is in it, but what is left out of it.
- Letter to H. H. Rogers, 5/1897

No one can write perfect English and keep it up through a stretch of ten chapters. It has never been done.
- "Christian Science"


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 23 Aug 07 - 10:14 PM

Good stuff! I dearly love Mark Twain's writing and his wit.


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: Amos
Date: 23 Aug 07 - 10:25 PM

Hell, them's good rules for nonfiction, too. I

A


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 23 Aug 07 - 10:43 PM

oh dear. I had trouble with the comma after sometimes, but this is not copy editing but editing for meaning and beauty etc. so it probably doesn't matter..but once a nice Catholic girl is set loose on the world, she will automatically be diagramming sentences in her head. mg


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: GUEST,Don Firth (computer, etc.)
Date: 23 Aug 07 - 11:26 PM

Great answer, Kat! I agree with everything you said. Especially the "awaken images" part. I think one of the greatest reading experiences a reader can have is when they get into a piece of writing so thoroughly that they cease to be conscious of the fact that they're reading. The images flow into the mind as if they are watching a movie, or are actually in the writing themselves.

And that takes some pretty good work on the writer's part!

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 24 Aug 07 - 02:32 AM

From a poem by Archibald Macleish

"a poem should be palpable and mute
as a globed fruit"

I always thought that said something true about writing.
I liked the 100 word story exercise in one of the Mudcat threads, and the concept of paring down writing to the very briefest and most basic words necessary to convey the meaning. And then paring it again.

I admire Hemingway for his economy of language, and Wolfe for the realism of point of view and description, but I believe that the essential element of interesting writing is in character creation, and specifically through utilization of the telling detail.


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 24 Aug 07 - 02:52 AM

I suppose I got it reasonably right in post 2 then? Maybe in fewer words than Kat as well:-)

I knew I could be a good writer!

Dave


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: s&r
Date: 24 Aug 07 - 06:18 AM

Who are you writing for? Much more important than anything else.

Stu

Or 'for whom are you writing', for the pedants.


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: Rapparee
Date: 24 Aug 07 - 09:22 AM

I suppose I got it reasonably right in post 2 then? Maybe in fewer words than Kat as well:-)

I knew I could be a good writer!


Tsk. Fewer words make better writing:

"Post 2 got it right? Maybe fewer that Kat."

See, that's paring the writing down to the bone. From nineteen words to nine -- allowing you to bank ten words for later use or to sell to politicians trying to wiggle out of something.


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 24 Aug 07 - 09:54 AM

About twenty-five years ago, I set out to write a manual for new people in my field. But what sort of shape would it take? What would I say?

Luckily, I was on what was then an early dedicated word processor; this was before the IBM PC came out. As I thought of topics or gems of wisdom, I'd jot down not just the subject but a central thought about it, or maybe a pearl of phraseology. I didn't know where it would appear in the book, but I knew something like it would need to be there. Store it.

Then another subject or shining phrase. Store it for later. And so on, with no pressure to produce anything final.

After a while I had enough fragments that I could see general themes that might make chapters, and thanks to the magic of the word processor I was able to move the fragments around, and sketch in transitions between them.

In this way you might say I assembled the manual, with much rewriting and pushing and shoving, transplanting, trimming, and polishing. "Can I say this shorter?" "Can I work in a wisecrack that will liven things up?" "Wouldn't this be better said in the chapter about ***?" "Do I even need to deal with this subject?"

This approach would be possible but awkward with hard copy from typewriting, and I think would be less applicable to writing fiction. It has served me well, though, in writing the manual and various articles through the years.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: katlaughing
Date: 24 Aug 07 - 10:08 AM

I think it works for fiction, sometimes, too, Uncle DaveO, as I rememebr reading about an author who would write things on index cards, as they came to her. Then she'd lay all of the cards out on the floor and reassemble them in coherent order. THEN she'd get to writing with them as prompts!

I suppose I got it reasonably right in post 2 then? Maybe in fewer words than Kat as well:-)

I knew I could be a good writer!


"Pared Kat, Writer Dave. Well done!"

Ha! From nineteen to nine to six!**bg**


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: jonm
Date: 24 Aug 07 - 10:29 AM

Aoid cliches like the plague, and double negatives are a real no-no.


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Subject: RE: BS: What are the absolutes of good writing?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 24 Aug 07 - 04:32 PM

Hehehe - I knew I could talk bollox as well:-)

How about -

Right and writer me!

Suppose it breaks rule 1 though!

:D


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