Tag Archives: writing

Writers on Life (more memes)

 

 

 

 

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Writers on Life (10 memes)

 

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Chris George, providing reliable PR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? Call 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

My sentence

Each nightly vision swirls about my head, as I sleepwalk through my days,

mumbling through greetings and conversations, looking for some spark to ignite

and energize, to slap me awake from this weariness that seems to bewilder me so.

 

Yet, I’m hopeless to express in so many words my quest for an original idea

and the strength to get it on paper. A few striking words, strung together:

one sentence to tell all. I need to begin with one sentence

to capture and slay those visions and deliver me from this inertia.

 

That’s the challenge, as big as a mountain before me, the challenge

I don’t want to talk about. I’d rather write and leave the talking to others.

I’d rather scratch out another poem and explore those crevices of my mind,

stretch and contort my thinking to, in someway, free me from my sentence. 

 

— Chris George

 

(A few years back I wrote 10 poems that are compiled under the title: Almonte and the summer of 2013 that was.  This poem first appeared in that compilation and later also found its way into Midstep: a dozen poems towards where I want to be. If you are interested in receiving either or both of these compilations, connect with me – chrisg.george@gmail.com – and provide your e-mail.)

 

Paraprosdokians to Enjoy

A paraprosdokian is a figure of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected; frequently used in a humorous situation (i.e. “Where there’s a will, I want to be in it.”) .

  1. Do not argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.
  2. The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it’s still on my list.
  3. Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.
  4. If I agreed with you, we’d both be wrong.
  5. We never really grow up, we only learn how to act in public.
  6. War does not determine who is right – only who is left.
  7. Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
  8. Evening news is where they begin with ‘Good Evening,’ and then proceed to tell you why it isn’t.
  9. To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism. To steal from many is research.
  10. A bus station is where a bus stops. A train station is where a train stops. On my desk, I have a work station.
  11. I thought I wanted a career. Turns out I just wanted paychecks.
  12. Whenever I fill out an application, in the part that says, ‘In case of emergency, notify:’ I put ‘DOCTOR.’
  13. I didn’t say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you.
  14. Women will never be equal to men until they can walk down the street with a bald head and a beer gut, and still think they are sexy.
  15. Behind every successful man is his woman. Behind the fall of a successful man is usually another woman.
  16. A clear conscience is the sign of a fuzzy memory.
  17. I asked God for a bike, but I know God doesn’t work that way. So I stole a bike and asked for forgiveness.
  18. You do not need a parachute to skydive. You only need a parachute to skydive twice.
  19. Money can’t buy happiness, but it sure makes misery easier to live with.
  20. There’s a fine line between cuddling and holding someone down so they can’t get away.
  21. I used to be indecisive. Now I’m not so sure.
  22. You’re never too old to learn something stupid.
  23. To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target.
  24. Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be.
  25. Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.
  26. Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.
  27. A diplomat is someone who tells you to go to hell in such a way that you look forward to the trip.
  28. Hospitality is making your guests feel at home even when you wish they were.
  29. I always take life with a grain of salt. Plus a slice of lemon, and a shot of tequila.
  30. When tempted to fight fire with fire, remember that the Fire Department usually uses water.

(ed. – Thank you to our friend, Dick Inwood of Ottawa.)

Your Wordplay Weapons

For writers (and flacks and hacks), there are many weapons at your disposal to ensure the written word is lively and engaging. Here are but a few.

  • Malapropism – a comic misuse of language
  • Neologism – a made-up word
  • Anagram – a word formed by transposing letters
  • Acronym – a word formed by combining first letters or syllables of other words
  • Antonym – a word that means the opposite of another word
  • Paraphrase – to state something differently
  • Double Entendre – a word or phrase with an extra, often racy meaning
  • Metaphor – a figure of speech suggesting a likeness, but offering a description that is not literally applicable
  • Homophones – words with the same pronunciation
  • Cipher – secret writing, such as diplomatic writing
  • Palindrome – a text that reads the same in reverse
  • Spoonerism – transposing first letters of two or more words (i.e. right lane / light rain)
  • Pangram – a phrase using all 26 letters of the alphabet
  • Portmanteau – a word blend of two other words (i.e. breakfast and lunch becomes brunch)
  • Retronym – a modified name for an old item
  • Sesquipedalian – having many syllables
  • Paronomasia – a pun or play of words

(ed. – We dug this helpful piece out of the By George archives. Through the next few weeks By George will post lists of these “wordplay weapons.”)

Chris George provides reliable PR & GR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? Call 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

Rules for Writing Plain English

From How You Can Write Plain Language by Just Following These 39 Steps
By William D. Lutz, author of Doublespeak Defined and The New Doublespeak

 

The Writing Process

1. Know your reader, and write with your reader’s viewpoint in mind.

2. Organize your text: in a logical sequence, with informative headings, and with a table of contents for long documents

3. Use short sentences

4. Say only what you have to say, avoiding too many messages in a single sentence, and omitting surplus words.

5. Keep equivalent items parallel.

6. Avoid unnecessary formality.

7. Give an overview of the main idea of the text.

8. List conditions separately.

9. Arrange your words with care.

10. Punctuate carefully.

11. Use an average of 25 words per sentence.

12. Put most of your messages at the subject-predicate position.

13. For variety or emphasis, invert your sentences.

14. Use the art of subordination to smooth out choppiness.

15. Avoid disrupting your sentences with thought-stopping gaps.

16. Tabulate particularly complex information.

17. Get rid of compound prepositions.

18. Rewrite the adjective, adverb, and noun clauses to other structures satisfying the same functions.

19. Use phrases to smooth out the choppy noun-noun modifier.

20. Be fair and nonsexist, but don’t be stupid.

 

Usage

21. Prefer the active voice.

22. Use simple, “everyday” words.

23. Use words consistently.

24. Use familiar, concrete words.

25. Avoid multiple negatives.

26. Avoid nouns created from verbs.

27. Use action verbs; avoid the verb “to be.”

28. Use personal pronouns.

29. Avoid noun strings.

30. Avoid deleting words such as “which is,” “who was,” “that are,” etc. – that link a subordinate clause.

31. Avoid language quirks.

 

Presentation of Material

32. Make the document attractive and designed for easy reading.

33. Use white space in margins and between sections.

34. Use ragged right margins.

35. Do not use all caps.

36. Use highlighting techniques, but don’t overuse them.

37. Use 8 to 10 point type for text.

38. Avoid lines of type that are too long or too short.

39. Avoid strings of symbols.

 

Chris George provides reliable PR & GR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? Call 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

Text Message Abbreviations

There are few who will argue against the fact that modern language has degenerated with the advance of on-line communications – particularly our use of strings of abbreviations when we send text messages. For your reference to this new world of abbreviations, we have compiled some of the most commonly used:

AFK – away from the keyboard
ASL? – Age? Sex? Location?
B4 – before
BAK – back at the keyboard
BBL – be back later
BCNU – be seeing you
BRB – be right back
BTW – by the way
FAQs – frequently asked questions
IMHO – in my humble opinion
L8R – later
LOL – laughs out loud
MOF? – male or female?
NM – never mind
N/M – not much
NP – no problem
OMG – oh may god!
ROFL – rolling on the floor laughing
TTFN – ta ta for now
UR – your or you’re
W/ – with

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Chris George, providing reliable PR & GR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? 613-983-0801 @CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

Ernest Hemingway on his craft of writing

  • All good books have one thing in common – they are truer than if they had really happened, and after you’ve read one of them you will find that all that happened, happened to you and then it belongs to you forever: the happiness and unhappiness, good and evil, ecstasy and sorrow, the food, wine, beds, people and the weather. If you can give that to readers, then you’re a writer.
  • Any man’s life, told truly, is a novel. There is no rule on how it is to write.
  • There are events which are so great that if a writer has participated in them his obligation is to write truly rather than assume the presumption of altering them with invention.
  • A writer should write what he has to say and not speak it (you lose it if you talk about it).
  • All you have to do is write one true sentence.
  • My aim is to put down on paper what I see and what I feel in the best and simplest way.
  • All my life I’ve looked at words as though I were seeing them for the first time.
  • Writing, at its best, is a lonely life…  for he does his work alone and if he is a good enough writer he must face eternity, or the lack of it, each day.
  • You invent fiction, but what you invent it out of is what counts. True fiction must come from everything you’ve ever known, ever seen, ever felt, ever learned.
  • You put down the words in hot blood, like an argument, and correct them when your temper has cooled.
  • All our words from loose using have lost their edge.
  • When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people not characters. A character is a caricature. If a writer can make people live there may be no great characters in his book, but it is possible that his book will remain as a whole; as an entity; as a novel.
  • If a writer of prose knows enough about what he is writing about, he may omit things that he knows and the reader, if the writer is writing truly enough, will have a feeling of those things as strongly as though the writer had stated them. The dignity of movement of an iceberg is due to only one-eighth of it being above water.
  • I was trying to write then and I found the greatest difficulty, aside from knowing what you really felt, rather that what you were supposed to feel, and had been taught to feel, was to put down what really happened in action; what the actual things which produced the emotion that you experienced..
  • There are only two absolutes I know about writing: one is that if you make love while you are jamming on a novel, you are in danger of leaving the best parts of it in the bed; the other is that integrity in a writer is like virginity in a woman – once lost, it is never recovered.

Chris George provides reliable PR & GR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? Call 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

The Five Oldest Words

Of all languages, throughout the ages, around the globe, there are five words that are today recognized as “the oldest.” University of Reading evolutionary biologist Mark Pagel studies have concluded the oldest words as:

I
Who
Two
Three
Five

These words are the most often used in daily speech – their forms or sounds date back over 10,000 years. Some of the other oldest words in mankind’s communicative history are:

We
Thou
Name
Tongue
What
How
Where
Four

This extraordinary work was first reported in a 2009 issue of National Geographic, but detailed reports about Professor Pagel’s study are found in U.K. media: BBC News and The Telegraph.

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Chris George, providing reliable PR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a trusted executive assistant, a communications can-do guy, or a go-to-scribe? Call 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

 

Henry Miller’s 10 Commandments for Writers

  1. Work on one thing at a time until finished.
  2. Start no more new books, add no more new material to “Black Spring.”
  3. Don’t be nervous. Work calmly, joyously, recklessly on whatever is in hand.
  4. Work according to Program and not according to mood. Stop at the appointed time! When you can’t create you can work.
  5. Cement a little every day, rather than add new fertilizers.
  6. Keep human! See people, go places, drink if you feel like it.
  7. Don’t be a draught-horse! Work with pleasure only.
  8. Discard the Program when you feel like it—but go back to it next day. Concentrate. Narrow down. Exclude.
  9. Forget the books you want to write. Think only of the book you are writing.
  10. Write first and always. Painting, music, friends, cinema, all these come afterwards.

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Chris George, providing reliable PR & GR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

Margaret Atwood’s 10 Rules for Writers

  1. Take a pencil to write with on airplanes. Pens leak. But if the pencil breaks, you can’t sharpen it on the plane, because you can’t take knives with you. Therefore: take two pencils. If both pencils break, you can do a rough sharpening job with a nail file of the metal or glass type.
  2. Take something to write on. Paper is good. In a pinch, pieces of wood or your arm will do.
  3. If you’re using a computer, always safeguard new text with a ­memory stick.
  4. Do back exercises. Pain is distracting.
  5. Hold the reader’s attention. (This is likely to work better if you can hold your own.) But you don’t know who the reader is, so it’s like shooting fish with a slingshot in the dark. What ­fascinates A will bore the pants off B.
  6. You most likely need a thesaurus, a rudimentary grammar book, and a grip on reality. This latter means: there’s no free lunch.
  7. Writing is work. It’s also gambling. You don’t get a pension plan. Other people can help you a bit, but ­essentially you’re on your own. ­Nobody is making you do this: you chose it, so don’t whine.
  8. You can never read your own book with the innocent anticipation that comes with that first delicious page of a new book, because you wrote the thing. You’ve been backstage. You’ve seen how the rabbits were smuggled into the hat. Therefore ask a reading friend or two to look at it before you give it to anyone in the publishing business. This friend should not be someone with whom you have a ­romantic relationship, unless you want to break up.
  9. Don’t sit down in the middle of the woods. If you’re lost in the plot or blocked, retrace your steps to where you went wrong. Then take the other road. And/or change the person. Change the tense. Change the opening page.
  10. Prayer might work. Or reading ­something else. Or a constant visual­isation of the holy grail that is the finished, published version of your resplendent book.

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Chris George, providing reliable PR & GR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

Of Virtues and Vices

Writers will appreciate these listings… and, at the office, perhaps they will serve as good reference(s) for spicing up the next meeting?

The 7 holy virtues:

  • Faith – complete trust
  • Hope – to expect with confidence
  • Charity – goodwill and the love of humanity
  • Prudence – control and discipline
  • Justice – being impartial and fair
  • Temperance – moderation in action
  • Fortitude – strength

The 7 deadly sins:

  • Pride – excessive belief in one’s own abilities
  • Envy – excessive desire for possession of another’s
  • Gluttony – consuming more than one needs
  • Lust – excessive thoughts and actions of a carnal nature
  • Anger – uncontrolled feelings of hatred and rage
  • Greed – excessive desire for material wealth or gain
  • Sloth – avoidance of physical and spiritual work

And for the creators among our readership, here are the 9 muses we must pay homage to:

  • Calliope – muse of epic poetry
  • Clio – muse of history
  • Erato – muse of love poetry
  • Euterpe – muse of music
  • Melpomene – muse of tragedy
  • Polyhymnia – muse of sacred poetry or mine
  • Terpsichore – muse of dance
  • Thalia – muse of comedy
  • Urania – muse of astronomy

Chris George provides reliable PR & GR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? Call 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

Writers on writing

  • I struggled in the beginning. I said I was going to write the truth, so help me God. And I thought I was. I found I couldn’t. Nobody can write the absolute truth. – Henry Miller
  • A good writer is basically a story teller, not a scholar or a redeemer of mankind. – Isaac Bashevis Singer
  • A writer and nothing else: a man alone in a room with the English language, trying to get human feelings right. – John K. Hutchens
  • How can I know what I think till I see what I say? – E.M. Forster
  • A writer is someone who can make a riddle out of an answer. – Karl Kraus
  • If you would be a reader, read,; if a writer, write. – Epictetus
  • The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shockproof shit detector. This is the writer’s radar and all great writers have had it. – Ernest Hemingway
  • The waste basket is a writer’s best friend. – Isaac Bashevis Singer
  • Every author, however modest, keeps a most outrageous vanity chained like a madman in the padded cell of his breast. – Logan Pearsall Smith
  • I’ve put my genius into my life; I’ve only put my talent into my works. – Oscar Wilde
  • There should be two main objectives in ordinary prose writing: to convey a message and to include in it nothing that will distract the reader’s attention or check his habitual pace of reading – he should feel that he is seated at ease in a taxi, not riding a temperamental horse through traffic. – Robert Graves and Allan Hodge
  • One way to looking at speech is to say it is a constant stratagem to cover nakedness. – Harold Pinter
  • Great literature is simply language charged with meaning to the utmost possible degree. – Erza Pound
  • My method is to take the utmost trouble to find the right thing to say, and then to say it with the utmost levity. – George Bernard Shaw
  • I quote others in order to better express my own self. – Montaigne

Chris George provides reliable PR & GR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? Call 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

Vonnegut’s 8 rules for writing

In his book Bagombo Snuff Box: Uncollected Short Fiction, American author Kurt Vonnegut listed eight rules for writing a short story:

  1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.
  2. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.
  3. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
  4. Every sentence must do one of two things—reveal character or advance the action.
  5. Start as close to the end as possible.
  6. Be a Sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them—in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
  7. Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.
  8. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To hell with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.

Gotta love Vonnegut!

Chris George provides reliable PR & GR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? Call 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

Top 10 Funny-Sounding and Interesting Words

words

Here is an interest top-ten list. The Merriam Webster dictionary has listed the 10 most funny sounding and interesting words.

 

  1. Bumfuzzle / to confuse; perplex; fluster
  2. Cattywampus / (dialect) askew, awry, kitty-corner
  3. Gardyloo / used in Edinburgh as a warning cry when it was customary to throw slops from the windows into the streets
  4. Taradiddle / 1 : a fib 2 : pretentious nonsense
  5. Billingsgate / coarsely abusive language
  6. Snickersnee / 1. (archaic) to engage in cut-and-thrust fighting with knives 2 : a large knife
  7. Widdershins / in a left-handed or contrary direction; counterclockwise
  8. Collywobbles / pain in the abdomen and especially in the stomach; a bellyache
  9. Gubbins / (dialect Britain) fish parings or refuse; broadly : any bits and pieces
  10. Diphthong / two vowel sounds joined in one syllable to form one speech sound, e.g. the sounds of “ou” in out and of “oy” in boy

 

Source: merriam-webster.com

 

Chris George provides reliable PR & GR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? Call 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

10 popular contronyms

Contronyms are words that are their own antonyms – a word that is contradictory or can have an opposite meaning. Here are 10 popular such words.

 

  1. Help means ‘assist,’ unless you can’t help doing something, when it means ‘prevent.’
  2. Left can mean either remaining or departed. If the gentlemen have withdrawn to the drawing room for after-dinner cigars, who’s left? Well, the gentlemen have left and the ladies are left.
  3. Off means ‘deactivated,’ as in “to turn off,” but also ‘activated,’ as in “The alarm went off.”
  4. Weather can mean ‘to withstand or come safely through,’ as in “The company weathered the recession,” or it can mean ‘to be worn away’: “The rock was weathered.”
  5. Screen can mean ‘to show’ (a movie) or ‘to hide’ (an unsightly view).
  6. Oversight is the noun form of two verbs with contrary meanings, “oversee” and “overlook.” “Oversee” is Old English for ‘look at from above,’ which means ‘supervise’ (medieval Latin for the same thing: super- ‘over’ + videre ‘to see.’) “Overlook” usually means the opposite: ‘to fail to see or observe; to pass over without noticing; to disregard, ignore.’
  7. Dust (along with the next two words) is a noun turned into a verb meaning either “to add” or “to remove” the thing in question. Only the context will tell you which it is. When you dust are you applying dust or removing it? It depends whether you’re dusting the crops or the furniture.
  8. Seed:  If you seed the lawn you add seeds, but if you seed a tomato you remove them.
  9. Stone:  You can stone some peaches, but don’t stone your neighbor.
  10. Fast can mean “moving rapidly,” as in “running fast,” or ‘fixed, unmoving,’ as in “holding fast.” If colors are fast they will not run. The meaning ‘firm, steadfast’ came first. The adverb took on the sense ‘strongly, vigorously,’ which evolved into ‘quickly,’ a meaning that spread to the adjective.

 

Read the full text here – brought to you by that wonderful site, Mental Floss!

 

You can find a list of 75 contronyms on this post in Daily Writing Tips.


Chris George provides reliable PR & GR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? Call 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

Our articles tagged “writing”

typewriter3

The By George Journal articles tagged “writing” are for those who fancy themselves to be writers, copy-editors, hacks and flacks. We trust these posts will be helpful for a public relations practitioner or corporate professional – or anyone else for that matter – who writes for a living. Here are examples of what you will find buried deep within this blog:

Rules for Writing Plan English
Basics of Developing “Good SM Content”
20 rules for fine writing
Your Wordplay Weapons
Paraprosdokians to Enjoy

Go ahead and check out our menu of articles tagged “writing” and take a moment to read our commentary “We believe the power of words is a magnificent thing.” You’ll find here, that the By George Journal and the wordsmiths at CG&A COMMUNICATIONS are dedicated to bringing you the “write stuff”!

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Chris George, providing reliable PR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? Call 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

 

 

 

20 rules of fine writing

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 infin-

itive.

5.  Avoid clichés like the plague.
6.  Also, always avoid annoying alliteration.
7.  Also, too, never, ever use repetitive redundancies.
8.  No sentence fragments.
9.  Contractions aren’t necessary and shouldn’t be used.
10. One should NEVER generalize.
11. Comparisons are as bad as clichés.
12. Don’t use no double negatives.
13. Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.
14. Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake.
15. Never use a big word when a diminutive one would suffice.
16. Use words correctly, irregardless of how others use them.
17. Use the apostrophe in it’s proper place and omit it when its not needed.
18. Puns are for children, not groan readers.
19. Who needs rhetorical questions?
20. Proof read to see if you any words out.

 

(ed. – This post has been previously published in By George Journal, first in 2008.)

Chris George, providing reliable PR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? Call 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.