Thursday, November 17, 2011

Learn how to write fancy, then just... don't!

It's funny, this thing about learning how to write. We go to school for so many years. We read, study, practice and try to learn how to get it done. We increase our vocabulary and learn how to write in various ways. We rehearse rules and put them into practice.

And then -- when we know all these fancy words, when we have control over the rules -- we are encouraged to write as simple as possible and in some cases break all the rules we have ever learned, in an effort to catch some attention.

Is it annoying or is it just very interesting?

"Strike in the active voice. Aim straight for the enemy: imprecision, ambiguity, and those high words that bear semblance of worth, not substance. Offer no quarter to the tired phrase or overworn idiom. Empty your knapsack of all adjectives, adverbs, and clauses that slow your stride and weaken your pace. Travel light. Remember the most memorable sentences in the English language are also the shortest. 'The King is dead' and 'Jesus wept.'"
- Television journalist Bill Moyers.

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