Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Write Way

Recently I was asked about the rules I follow when I attempt to write. Humm! I’d never been made to feel like an expert before, so I thought I’d strike the iron when the sun shines, err, I mean making hay when it’s hot. I’ll list down all the “proverbial” rules I am conscious of when I attempt to write:

1. Convince your readers with brevity. I never use more words, phrases, sentences, or other linguistic elements and parts of speech than I, myself, can actually and precisely use or employ when expressing myself or otherwise giving voice to what I may or may not be thinking when I am trying to say how many words I should use or not use while using words.

2. And I never begin a sentence with a conjunction.

3. To begin a sentence with an infinitive is incorrect.

4. I avoid clichés; they are old chestnuts.

5. I avoid annoying alliterations that are also abrasive and awkward.

6. And the secret of funny writing? …timing! Let me explain once more, I never drag a joke to such an extent that it outlives its lifetime and is easily forgotten. Did you get it? Wait! I’ll say that again…(read rule no.7 again)

7. Employing foreign words and phrases ad infinitum hovers on ad nauseam.

8. Starting a sentence with a hanging gerund is one of my favourite “no-nos”.

9. I use my commas wisely lest I’m labeled forgive the pun “rebel without a clause”.

10. I hate using single word sentences. Period!

11. I avoid using quotations that digress from the subject. As Ralph Waldo Emerson is said to have once remarked, "I hate quotations. Tell me what you know."

12. Puns are entertaining for kids, or the children-at-heart. For “groan” readers, they are “pun”ishing.

13. I use the apostrophe in it's proper place and omit it when its not needed.

14. It’s my blog. So I make the rules. And I rewrite them with every new entry. So my own suggestion, never follow any rules. Just blame it on your creativity.


Precocious Perf said...


If there ever were an award for 'apostrophe catastrophe' I know who would beat everyone to that.

Sudhir pai said...

I'll let that comment pass and "turn aside". humph!
As an aside, the word apostrophe does mean "turn aside" in greek.

Precocious Perf said...

in *Greek*, you mean. :P

Sudhir pai said...

madam perf!
I'm very certain you are one of those highly worshipped figures in the pantheon of GEEK mythology!

grace me with thy blessings! grammatically! said...

inspired by william saphire ??

Sudhir pai said...


each time I've thought of something cool, history comes and sodomizes me!

well if I'd read this piece you showed me, i'd call this entry a personal parody ( forgive the annoying alliteration! )


Is that a fair deal?
BTW who's william saphire?
cant google at work...posting this comment on the sly...
[:P] said...

oh sorry...that will be independently produced artwork then :)

this chap has been running the "on language" column in the NYT Sunday issue for as long as I (and he !) can remember. pulitzer n all that.

The Fumblerules of Grammar

* Avoid run-on sentences they are hard to read.
* Don’t use no double negatives.
* Verbs has to agree with their subjects.
* No sentence fragments.
* Proof read carefully to see if you any words out.
* A writer must not shift your point of view.
* Place pronouns as close as possible, especially in long sentences, as of 10 or more words, to their antecedents.
* Everyone should be careful to use a singular pronoun with singular nouns in their writing.
* Steer clear of incorrect forms of verbs that have snuck in the language.
* Writing carefully, dangling participles must be avoided.
* Write all adverbial forms correct.

The Fumblerules of Punctuation

* Use the semicolon properly, always use it where it is appropriate; and never where it isn’t.
* Reserve the apostrophe for it’s proper use and omit it when its not needed.
* Avoid commas, that are not necessary.
* Avoid overuse of "quotation "marks.""""
* Don’t overuse exclamation marks!!!!!
* Hyphenate between syllables and avoid un-necessary hyphens.

The Fumblerules of Style and Diction

* Do not put statements in the negative form.
* If you reread your work, you will find on rereading that a great deal of repetition can be avoided by rereading and editing.
* If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a thousand times, resist hyperbole.
* Also, avoid awkward or affected alliteration.
* Don’t string too many prepositional phrases together unless you are walking through the valley of the shadow of death.
* Always pick on the correct idiom.
* Eschew dialect, irregardless.
* It is incumbent on us to avoid archaisms.
* Take the bull by the hand and avoid mixed metaphors.
* Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky.
* Never, ever use repetitive redundancies.
* Last but not least, avoid cliches like the plague; seek viable alternatives.


Pallavi said...

once somebody not so famous said, "don't write like an author would, write the way you want to!"