Tag Archives: writing

Ever wonder what we do?

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Ever wonder what we do? How we help our clients? What is it that we do all day at CG&A COMMUNICATIONS?

Much of our day we’ll spend staring into a screen, with fingers effortlessly tapping the keyboard in the pursuit of the next perfect sentence or provocative image. It’s a day of creativity and an attention to details. Our goal is always to develop effective, evocative communications that achieve the desired results.

Whether you are mounting a PR campaign for your organization, need to win over a particular audience with your idea, or wish to leave a great impression at your up-coming meeting, your success will depend directly on the clarity of your thought and the persuasiveness of your presentation.

Providing clarity and effective advocacy is precisely the invaluable support CG&A COMMUNICATIONS can provide. To use a Canadian analogy: we’ll pack killer snowballs so you can toss ‘em.

We provide the communications support required to be successful in advancing your cause. We have a disciplined approach to our PR and issue management initiatives that has come with decades worth of public and government relations experience. At the core of everything we do is quality writing, copy-editing and content development.

Some communications consultants will shroud their work in a mystic creative process. As results-oriented communicators, we prefer to talk about our systematic approach to meeting defined objectives. Our discipline in achieving results is a stepped process:

  • Set clear objectives and plan of approach
  • Craft persuasive arguments and well developed materials
  • Plan a systematic implementation – eye to detail and info gathering
  • Execute consistent follow-through and persistent follow-up
  • Review and analyze results to develop next steps

To describe our approach in another way, you might say we’re part-chief-investigator-part-dream-weaver. I personally like to think of myself as an “amiable gadfly and seeker-of-all-things-that-can-make-a-good-story.” However, that title would likely raise more questions than it answers around a boardroom table… so, I will stick with the rather conservative albeit clumsy: PR/GR advocate, writer, copy-editor & content developer.

To read more background on myself and the company, here are a few interesting links:

About Chris George

The CG&A COMMUNICATIONS website

About our services

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.

10 great quotes on #writing

novelvvRK6nHGOne of our favourite tweeps is Novelicious@noveliciouss – who is a writer of addictive novels. One of her favourite tweets is remarkable writing quotes. Here are 10 of her most recent provocative quotes on #writing.

 

“The purpose of literature is to turn blood into ink.” – T.S. Elliot

“For a writer every day is a nervous breakdown.” – John Banville

“Easy reading is damn hard writing.” – Maya Angelou

“Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!” – Goethe

“We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.” – Kurt Vonnegut

“Fiction is the lie through which we tell the truth.” – Albert Camus

“People need stories, because however dark, a darkness with voices in it is better than a silent void.” – Margaret Atwood

“If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.” – Elmore Leonard

“Write your goddamned book now. The world awaits.” – Dave Eggers

“You fail only if you stop writing.” – Ray Bradbury

 

By George highly recommends following @noveliciouss.

You can find By George on Twitter: @ByGeorgeJournal

 

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

Writers quoted on writing

“All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened and after you are finished reading one you will feel that all that happened to you and afterwards it all belongs to you; the good and the bad, the ecstasy, the remorse and sorrow, the people and the places and how the weather was. If you can get so that you can give that to people, then you are a writer.” – Ernest Hemingway

“The writer has to take the most used, most familiar objects—nouns, pronouns, verbs, adverbs—ball them together and make them bounce, turn them a certain way and make people get into a romantic mood; and another way, into a bellicose mood. I’m most happy to be a writer.” – Maya Angelou

“Until I was about seven, I thought books were just there, like trees. When I learned that people actually wrote them, I wanted to, too, because all children aspire to inhuman feats like flying. Most people grow up to realize they can’t fly. Writers are people who don’t grow up to realize they can’t be God.” – Fran Lebowitz

“Sleep on your writing; take a walk over it; scrutinize it of a morning; review it of an afternoon; digest it after a meal; let it sleep in your drawer a twelvemonth; never venture a whisper about it to your friend, if he be an author especially.” – A. Bronson Alcott

“Perhaps it would be better not to be a writer, but if you must, then write. You feel dull, you have a headache, nobody loves you, write. If all feels hopeless, if that famous “inspiration” will not come, write. If you are a genius, you’ll make your own rules, but if not – and the odds are clearly against it – go to your desk, no matter what your mood, face the very challenge of the paper – write.” – J.B. Priestley

“Writing a book is an adventure. To begin with, it is a toy and an amusement. Then it becomes a mistress, then it becomes a master, then it becomes a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster, and fling him to the public.” – Winston Churchill

“Writing is not a job description. A great deal of it is luck. Don’t do it if you are not a gambler because a lot of people devote many years of their lives to it (for little reward). I think people become writers because they are compulsive wordsmiths.” – Margaret Atwood

“Nothing is more satisfying than to write a good sentence. It is no fun to write lumpishly, dully, in prose the reader must plod through like wet sand. But it is a pleasure to achieve, if one can, a clear running prose that is simple yet full of surprises. This does not just happen. It requires skill, hard work, a good ear, and continued practice.” – Barbara Tuchman

“The most solid advice . . . for a writer is this, I think: Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep, really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive, with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell, and when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.” – William Saroyan

“The test of any good fiction is that you should care something for the characters; the good to succeed, the bad to fail. The trouble with most fiction is that you want them all to land in hell, together, as quickly as possible.” – Mark Twain

“Fundamentally, all writing is about the same thing; it’s about dying, about the brief flicker of time we have here, and the frustration that it creates.” – Mordecai Richler

“To the young writers, I would merely say, “Try to develop actual work habits, and even though you have a busy life, try to reserve an hour say—or more—a day to write.” Some very good things have been written on an hour a day. . . . So, take it seriously, you know, just set a quota. Try to think of communicating with some ideal reader somewhere. Try to think of getting into print. Don’t be content just to call yourself a writer and then bitch about the crass publishing world that won’t run your stuff. We’re still a capitalist country, and writing to some degree is a capitalist enterprise, when it’s not a total sin to try to make a living and court an audience. “Read what excites you,” would be advice, and even if you don’t imitate it you will learn from it. . . . I would like to think that in a country this large—and a language even larger—that there ought to be a living in it for somebody who cares, and wants to entertain and instruct a reader.” – John Updike

“The goods that a writer produces can never be impersonal; his character gets into them as certainly as it gets into the work of any other creative artist, and he must be prepared to endure investigation of it, and speculation upon it, and even gossip about it.” – H.L. Mencken

“The secret of popular writing is never to put more on a given page than the common reader can lap off it with no strain whatsoever on his habitually slack attention.” – Erza Pound

“Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” – E. L. Doctorow

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

Top-10 most commonly confused words

The Merriam – Webster on-line dictionary has put together a very useful top-10 list of the most commonly confused words. Here they are:

Flaunt / Flout
Affect / Effect
Deserts / Desserts
Stationary / Stationery
Flak / Flack
It’s / Its
Pore / Pour
Fewer / Less
Flounder / Founder
Principal / Principle

Here’s the link to the Merriam-Webster presentation.

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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.

 

George Orwell on effective writing

George Orwell wrote a 1946 essay entitled, Politics and the English Language, in which he laid out five rules for effective writing. Here they are:

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 saying anything outright barbarous.

Click here to read Orwell’s original essay: Politics and the English Language

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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.

 

Our Twisted English Language

Is there anything stranger than our English language?? Consider these:

  • Why is “abbreviated” is such a long word?
  • Why is “phonics” not spelled the way it sounds?
  • Why do “overlook” and “oversee” mean opposite things?
  • Why does “slow down” and “slow up” mean the same thing?
  • Why does “fat chance” and “slim chance” mean the same thing?
  • Why do “tug” boats push their barges?
  • Why is it called “after dark” when it really is “after light”?
  • Doesn’t “expecting the unexpected” make the unexpected expected?
  • Why are a “wise man” and a “wise guy” opposites?
  • Why do we put suits in garment bags and garments in a suitcase?
  • Why are they called “stands” when they are made for sitting?
  • Why do we drive on a parkway and park on a driveway ?
  • Why is the third hand on the watch called the second hand?

And here’s a couple of questions to chew on…
Q – If a word is misspelled in the dictionary, how would we ever know?
Q – If Webster wrote the first dictionary, where did he find the words?

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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.

50 striking verbs

writingBy George offers 50 striking verbs to add a lift to your next memo or conversation.

abolish / advance / arrest / assault / berate / choke / collapse / crawl / edge / elude / emerge / engage / erupt / expedite / flaunt / flog / fumble / gnaw / gouge / grapple / gyrate / hang / haul / hurl / inflict / launch / lunge / mangle / muster / pander / parade / persuade / placate / plunge / repel / rub / salute / scrawl / snare / spear /stifle / subdue / tackle / thrash / touch / trounce / undertake / undo / unite / usher
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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.

 

 

 

Quotes on the use of quotations

  • An apt quotation is as good as an original remark. – Proverb
  • The wisdom of the wise and the experience of the ages are perpetuated by quotations. – Benjamin Disraeli
  • I quote others only the better to express myself. – Michel de Montaigne
  • I hate quotations, tell me what you know. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Every quotation contributes something to the stability or enlargement of the language. – Johnson
  • A thing is never too often repeated which is never sufficiently learned. – Seneca
  • A good conversationalist is not one who remembers what was said, but says what someone wants to remember. – Jason Mason Brown
  • A proverb is the child of experience. – Anon.
  • Proverbs are the sanctuary of the intuitions. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • The wise make proverbs and fools repeat them. – Isaac D’Israeli
  • Democracy will not be salvaged by men who talk fluently, debate forcefully, and quote aptly. -Lancelot Hogben
  • It is a good thing for an uneducated man to read books of quotations. – Sir Winston Churchill
  • I often quote myself. It adds spice to my conversation. – George Bernard Shaw
  • The surest way to make a monkey of a man is to quote him. – Robert Benchley
  • Most anthologists of quotations are like those who eat cherries… first picking the best ones and winding up by eating everything. – Nicolas Chamfort

 

Quotes on writing

  • Put it before them briefly so they will read it, clearly so they will appreciate it, picturesquely so they will remember it and, above all, accurately so they will be guided by its light. – Joseph Pulitzer
  • Easy reading is damn hard writing. – Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • Good writers define reality; bad ones merely restate it. A good writer turns fact into truth; a bad writer will, more often than not, accomplish the opposite. – Edward Albee
  • The difference between the right word and almost the right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug. – Mark Twain
  • Writing has made me a better man. It has put me in contact with those fleeting moments which prove the existence. – Ishmael Reed
  • Without words, without writing and without books there would be no history, there could be no concept of humanity. – Hermann Hesse
  • Words make love with one another. – Andre Breton
  • The sovereign rule: don’t say it, write it. – James Michener
  • Only a mediocre writer is always at his best. – W. Somerset Maugham
  • With sixty staring me in the face, I have developed inflammation of the sentence structure and definite hardening of the paragraphs. – James Thurber
  • I keep going over a sentence. I nag it, gnaw it, pat and flatter it. – Janet Flanner
  • I think all writing is a disease. You can’t stop it. – William Carlos Williams
  • There’s a great power in words, if you don’t hitch too many of them together. – Josh Billings
  • In composing, as a general rule, run your pen through every other word you have written; you have no idea what vigor it will give your style. – Sydney Smith
  • A writer is somebody for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people. – Thomas Mann
  • The waste basket is the writer’s best friend. – Isaac Bashevis Singer

 

SM Content that Pops

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Today there is just too much to read. Across the social media platforms, there is too much see.

That is why, when you get a set of eyeballs on your content, you had better ensure it leaps off the screen and pulls the reader in. It needs to offer a sensation. It needs to be very good writing. It needs to be memorable. Your content needs to pop!

Here are some suggestions to craft captivating your social media:

  • Write real good stories – interesting, topical; posts that capture the readers’ interests or make readers take a moment to think
  • Grab your readers’ attention – with punchy headlines and subheads, pull quotes and an interesting graphic; use all tactics to first capture their senses
  • Package and re-package – be consistent and persuasive in delivering your key messages; make your storyline compelling; and, re-package and re-post materials
  • Deliver multimedia – enrich your printed word with images, video and audio where possible; create graphics – perhaps an infographic or a stylized pull quote

An average reader might spend only seconds on your page to determine whether they will invest any more time in reading your content. Even then, in a few seconds, if the content is not engaging, they will click elsewhere. There must be a lot at play if you are to attract a reader through your piece.

For more tips on writing good social media content, By George Journal has many writing tips in their archives. Click: Tagged “writing”

2016 By George editorial mission

Through the years By George Journal has offered ideas and background on effective PR and GR tactics as well as the craft of writing. This body of work is an extension of our company’s forte – delivering reliable, strategic advocacy advice and exceptional writing services.

And to add some levity to the Journal we pepper each month with remarkable quotes and humourous pieces for use in our readers’ workplace and social settings.

Each year, we take up an issue to feature in this space – last year it was federal politics and the election campaign, and in years prior we have featured everything from “the cost of big government” to “what is the essence of quality writing?”

cyborgs_pics_01For 2016, the By George Journal has set as its editorial mission an exploration of the changing dynamics of effective communications for organizations and groups who wish to have their issues heard. How do you best convey something relevant and memorable in our daily maelstrom of media images and information? Consider:

  • For decision-makers, our world is spinning much faster with the accelerated flow of information 24/7.
  • Social media is evolving and content developers and IT managers are taking the place of wordsmiths and researchers.
  • The interplay between making a favourable first impression and making your case has become a key focus for everything communicated.

All of these discussions are up for inspection through this year. We hope our readers may gain insight into what it means to communicate effectively in our super-charged, wired world. (Given our bent for words and wordsmithing, you might expect to hear a lament or two through the year.)

By George will be carrying this discussion to our Twitter and Facebook feeds as well, so we hope followers will consider joining the dialogue.

All the best through 2016! We wish you a prosperous year!

The By George Treasury e-books

Our By George scribes have a treasure trove of material – available in two e-books.

 

By-George-Treasury_95-08-1-231x300The By George Treasury is a resourceful and fun compilation that has been selected from the more than one thousand articles from more than a decade of our writings. We have looked back to gather lists of some of the most remarkable quotations, classic wordplay, puns and quizzes, editorials, the best of the humour over the years, and the 15-most popular feature articles to have appeared in the publication. From the initial editorial found in the very first edition, through to the slew of jokes in the summertime 2008 issue, we have picked the crème de la crème.

 

By George Treasury IIThe By George Treasury ~ Book II spans five years of By George Journal postings from 2009 through 2013. This book offers a potpourri of information on effective communication to help at your workplace and with your social affairs. And so, page after page, you will find useful and interesting materials you will want to share at work or with your friends.

 

The front piece of the second treasury states the edition “marks another milestone for us as active advocates and wordsmiths of an independent PR firm. After returning to the Ottawa area from more than a decade in Niagara, we realize we’re basking in the dawn of a new chapter of our lives. So, at this time, it seems fitting to produce another treasury volume of our journal entries which will allow us to turn over new journal pages – both literally and figuratively.”

 

Pick up your copies of these e-books from Our E-bookshelf.

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Rules for writing plain English

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Here are some wonderful writing tips from the book 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.

10 tips for proofreading

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One of the keys to quality communications is to ensure that what you communicate is precise, effectively conveyed, grammatically correct and free of spelling and typographical errors. In our daily course of work, today, we are sending more and more written messages, largely due to the increased use of e-mail.

Keep in mind, your every written word reflects directly on you and your capabilities. Therefore, we strongly recommend that a person proofreads everything he/she writes.

To help in developing good proofreading habits for all your communications – from e-mails to reports and briefs – here are ten tips to ensure you write more effectively. When you proofread:

1. Minimize distractions and interruptions to focus on work before you. Get yourself in a quiet space – mentally and physically.
2. Force yourself to slow down and concentrate. Do not focus on sentences and meanings, but rather on each word and character — letters, punctuation, special characters and spaces.
3. Read backwards – this can help you focus on the words and not get distracted by meaning.
4. Proof any text in all caps separately and more painstakingly. Typos and misspellings are much more difficult to see in all caps.
5. If there’s an outline or table of contents, check it separately. Otherwise you’ll get caught up in the text and miss errors.
6. Proof the most prominent text separately. Ironically, the most prominent text – titles, e-mail subject lines – is often the most easily overlooked.
7. Do not try to find every mistake in one pass. Read through the material several times, looking for different problems each time, such as: typos and misspellings / easily confused words (e.g., “to” for “too” and “your” for “you’re”) / ambiguity and inconsistencies / formatting problems / factual errors / missing words.
8. Print out the pages for one final read-through. Proofread on screen and on paper.
9. Proofread online ensuring you proof using different platforms and in different browsers. Check the text on a Mac and PC. Check spacing issues and punctuation when cutting and pasting into e-mail programs…
10. If possible, ask another person to proofread your writing.

 

Quotes on writing

  • Put it before them briefly so they will read it, clearly so they will appreciate it, picturesquely so they will remember it and, above all, accurately so they will be guided by its light. — Joseph Pulitzer
  • Easy reading is damn hard writing. — Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • Good writers define reality; bad ones merely restate it. A good writer turns fact into truth; a bad writer will, more often than not, accomplish the opposite. — Edward Albee
  • The difference between the right word and almost the right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug. — Mark Twain
  • Writing has made me a better man. It has put me in contact with those fleeting moments which prove the existence. — Ishmael Reed
  • Without words, without writing and without books there would be no history, there could be no concept of humanity. — Hermann Hesse
  • Words make love with one another. — Andre Breton
  • The sovereign rule: don’t say it, write it. — James Michener
  • Only a mediocre writer is always at his best. — W. Somerset Maugham
  • With sixty staring me in the face, I have developed inflammation of the sentence structure and definite hardening of the paragraphs. — James Thurber
  • I keep going over a sentence. I nag it, gnaw it, pat and flatter it. — Janet Flanner
  • I think all writing is a disease. You can’t stop it. — William Carlos Williams
  • There’s a great power in words, if you don’t hitch too many of them together. — Josh Billings
  • In composing, as a general rule, run your pen through every other word you have written; you have no idea what vigor it will give your style. — Sydney Smith
  • A writer is somebody for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people. — Thomas Mann
  • The waste basket is the writer’s best friend. — Isaac Bashevis Singer

 

Arrrr, so you want to be a writer, do you matey?

I simply had to share this.   6 Reasons being a Pirate is like being a Writer by Chuck Sambuchino is a very clever, instructive piece on writing. Anyone pounding away on a keyboard for their day job, or pursuing creative ends of prose at the edges of night, will like this concise list of essential elements for “a good story.”  Chuck Sambuchion writes:

Here are 6 things I learned from a pirate about writing.  It turns out pirates and writers need the same things in their arsenal. Every pirate (and writer) needs:

1. A hook: Hooks grab the reader in the first few sentences or can be found at the end of a chapter to keep the pages turning. EXAMPLE: “Captain Hook stood on the edge of the plank. Below swam a wide-mouthed crocodile chomp-chomp-chomping at the air between Captain Hook and the sloshing sea…”

2. An anchor: A ship is afloat without an anchor. Your anchor is the story question. The story question keeps your writing focused. Will Hook make it out alive?

3. Navigation tools: A pirate needs to know how to navigate the genre. Know your story structure.  A play structure is going to be entirely different from a picture book structure. But each will have:

  • A well developed main character
  • A setting full of sensorial language, (Why use lily-livered language when you can write like a salty pirate?)
  • A story question that includes several attempts at a solution
  • A story answer that involves a physical and an emotional ending.

4. A plank: Every story must reach the point where the main character’s toes are hanging over the edge of the plank with nowhere left to go. This climax should have your reader feeling that sorry bloke’s anxiety. Tic, Tic, Tic!

5. A cutlass: A pirate has to be willing to use his cutlass. Once your story is written cut, cut, cut, down to the briny bones of a swashbuckling seafaring story.

6. A treasure: When your reader closes the book make sure he leaves with a treasure he will want to come back to again and again.

 

Chuck Sambuchino is an editor and published author who runs the Guide to Literary Agents Blog, one of the biggest blogs in publishing.   6 Reasons being a Pirate is like being a Writer is found on Writers Digest at:

http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/guide-to-literary-agents/6-reasons-being-a-pirate-is-like-being-a-writer

 

10 Exquisite Sentences

Jennifer Schaffer of BuzzFeed compiled wonderful sentences from throughout the arts and published her list – 51 Of The Most Beautiful Sentences In Literature. Here are the top-10 of those 51, as picked by By George. To read and enjoy the full list, go here.

  • “There is a sense in which we are all each other’s consequences.” – Wallace Stegner, All the Little Live Things
  • “I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart; I am, I am, I am.” —Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar
  • “‘Dear God,’ she prayed, ‘let me be something every minute of every hour of my life.’” —Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
  • “Sometimes I can feel my bones straining under the weight of all the lives I’m not living.” —Jonathan Saran Foer, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
  • “We cross our bridges as we come to them and burn them behind us, with nothing to show for our progress except a memory of the smell of smoke, and the presumption that once our eyes watered.” —Tom Stoppard, Rosencratz and Guildenstern Are Dead
  • “In spite of everything, I still believe people are really good at heart.” —Anne Frank, The Diary of Anne Frank
  • “She was lost in her longing to understand.” —Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Love in the Time of Cholera
  • “The curves of your lips rewrite history.” —Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray
  • “It frightened him to think what must have gone to the making of her eyes.” —Edith Wharton, The Age of Innocence
  • “Beauty is an enormous, unmerited gift given randomly, stupidly.” —Khaled Hosseini, And the Mountains Echoed

(ed. – Many thanks to our friend Susan Wright who found this and posted it on her FB page.)

Stephen King’s secrets to great writing

 

1. Stop watching television. Instead, read as much as possible.
2. Prepare for more failure and criticism than you think you can deal with.
3. Don’t waste time trying to please people.
4. Write primarily for yourself.
5. Tackle the things that are hardest to write.
6. When writing, disconnect from the rest of the world.
7. Don’t be pretentious.
8. Avoid adverbs and long paragraphs.
9. Don’t get overly caught up in grammar.
10. Master the art of description.
11. Don’t give too much background information.
12. Tell stories about what people actually do.
13. Take risks; don’t play it safe.
14. Realize that you don’t need drugs to be a good writer.
15. Don’t try to steal someone else’s voice.
16. Understand that writing is a form of telepathy.
17. Take your writing seriously.
18. Write every single day.
19. Finish your first draft in three months.
20. When you’re finished writing, take a long step back.
21. Have the guts to cut.
22. Stay married, be healthy, and live a good life.

 

Read the whole article in the Business Insider Magazinehere.

 

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 Doublspeak

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.

 

(ed. – This is a repost from a By George Journal article that originally appeared September 2009.)