That was, of course, a literary
You recognized it as such because
you have cultivated your cultural
Writers must cultivate a bumper
crop of cultural literacy, and apply
It’s all about making connections. The more you
already know, the more you continually learn.
Your audience is your context. Be
sure your readers understand
where you’re coming from. And
State your genre.
Write about what you know, or
Be sure you are addressing the
It all boils down to context.
Sitting on Shrimp
Until we put ourselves OUT THERE, there will be
As writers, we are our own bait, and our readers
come when they see us waiting for them.
We know they’re there when we feel them bite,
and most of the time, it feels so good.
When I hear pompous people talk
about the purity of the English
language, I have to stifle a smirk.
American English isn’t pure; it’s a
veritable stewpot of thises and thats.
It’s a multicolored patchwork crazy
quilt of words, phrases, clauses, and
expressions most of which were
stolen from other languages.
American English is a lot like
American people in that way.
American English is not pure at all. It’s a fabulous blend of every language
on the planet. It’s colorful and majestic and unique. American English
rolls with the tides and changes with the seasons. It’s a patchwork quilt.
James D. Nicoll put it this way: The problem with
defending the purity of the English language is that
English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore.
James D. Nicoll owned a popular SF/game store in Canada. When his
quotation “caught on,” he had this to say:
If I had only known that was going to be my fifteen minutes of fame, I'd
have run that sucker through a spell checker and taken more care while
writing the surrounding material.
She had been forced into prudence in her youth; she learned
romance as she grew older – the natural sequence of an
unnatural beginning. -- Jane Austen
Don’t limit your • Keep in mind
writing to things
you think other
that the person
people might to write for is
Write about what you
the story that
know. Write about
remember that we
experience things in
our heads, too.
want to read.
Parents love to write about their
children, and, as Art Linkletter used
to say, “Kids say the darndest
This is one reason why Mommy and
Daddy bloggers are so widespread
We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in
Knowing the rules of grammar will
help you develop STYLE.
Rules can be taught and learned.
Style is up to you, the writer, but
if you know the rules, your style
will be all the better for it.
Do you know what the most
commonly used opening sentence
It’s common. Don’t use it. It’s
already been used.
Here it is:
If the word you want is “condemn,”
be sure to spell it right.
Use “condom” only when you
Or for safety’s sake.
Actually, “condemn” is a very
interesting word, too, if you know
its point of origin.
Pronouns can be confusing when used in compounds.
Just remember this:
The pronoun that is correct alone, is still correct when
used with another word.
I like pizza.
Bill and I like pizza.
There was enough pizza for me.
There was enough pizza for Bill and me.
The rule doesn’t change just because Bill was
mooching my pizza.
“Just between you and me”
Is always correct.
It is NEVER
“Just between you and I.”
Never. Ever. Carved in stone.
It’s a prepositional phrase. They use
Those who say it can't be done are usually
interrupted by others doing it.
James A. Baldwin
You don’t want to be this guy:
"Lincoln was a tall man, much in the way that Andre the Giant was also tall, and
with the same sideways heart and thick bones that made Andre the Giant look so
much like a giant, and made Lincoln look like a guy who shouldn't have been
photographed wearing that tall hat which made him look even taller, kinda like a
chef only the wrong color, which for the times of his life, were taller even than if
he lived today, in which case the hat wouldn't be a problem because it wouldn't
exist, and some think and I might agree that he grew that beard because a little
girl told him to because the more of that face that was covered up, the better,
and you know it's bad if a little kid can't stand it, and we all know which one was
took out by a southerner with three names, just like the guy who blew Teddy
Kennedy's brain to pieces in the middle of the parade, and which one was killed
by a crazy actor leaping from the stage onto the balcony to climax the scene with
something not exactly in the script but which would read DEATH all in red caps if
it was, and Andre the Giant has a small and dainty wife which must have made
their personal lifes interesting to say the least, and Lincoln's wife was a
spendthrift nutter, but at least Andrew the Giant got to drop dead naturally
instead of be took out by ham actors with guns or book salesmen, but the
Morphine Syndrome which made them both so tall and thickboned also caused
their death before their old age began, and pretty much ended both the Civil War
and any chance of a Princess Bride sequel."
…or this guy….
• "After watching the movie sos I could really get it, and reading the book, although
in all sincerness it was the Classic Junior Comic of my youth, which I cherish, not the
novelle since I haven't got all day to bake a cake with you, (sorry, my parental
rights come before a book because being a good example is more important than
being seen reading or watching a non-barney substance for my own benefit or
pleasure or a good grade) I have concluded that being a comic and thereofe much
shorter than a book with hard covers still gives no rights for leaving out important
people who have a part in the story, such as the girl with short hair who could
shoot, and Moochie. I find follity logic in this paper version because it left out so
much that was in the movie! I think in my opinion since the question begged me
that the tree house was the best part of the story, and I would love to have one, for
I would make my bed in the tower and paint the walls green but have real
plumbing with shower and high speed internet in it. I find the book version lacking
for it left out the treehouse and the girl and that Tarzan game they played by the
waterfalls. Also, many of the words were long and hard to understand, since I was
ever in a hurry that week and coulndt' stop to use the dictionary all the time like
usual when I read the paper, for example, or the instructions on the back of No-
Bake Cheesecake by Jello. I also wondered things like where the hell are all the
pirates? To answer the question in only a few words I would have to say, the movie
was better because it had them riding ostriches and rolling logs down a hill to
crush people, where in the book there was nothing cool like that."
Do not be surprised when those
who ignore the rules of grammar
also ignore the law. After all, the
law is just so much
grammar. ~Robert Brault
“20 items or less,” indeed.
• “Less” is used when the items cannot be easily
counted. If the items can be easily counted,
the proper word is “fewer.”
• Sally ate less at breakfast than at lunch.
• Sally ate fewer meals with her new diet.
• Please alert your local WalMart, as their sign
really annoys people who know how to use
the English language. Then again, it also
shows the local population who can read &
count and who can’t – a little IQ test, if you
Use “I” if the pronoun is the subject, or if it follows a linking verb.
When in doubt, use the pronoun alone. The rule doesn’t change
just because you might be dealing with a compound.
The most essential gift for
a good writer is a built-in,
shock-proof shit detector.
Write about funny things. Write
about sad things. Write about
things that have happened to you,
or to someone you know.
Write about deadly serious
things. Write about things so
other people will know what to do
in similar circumstances.
The beautiful part of writing
you don’t have to get it right
the first time,
a brain surgeon.
The power of the harasser, the abuser, the rapist depends
above all on the silence of women.—Ursula LeGuin
Speak out. Act. Write it up.
Authors who never give you
something to disagree with
never give you anything to
-- Michael LaRocca
Don’t be afraid to make a reader angry.
You’re doing him a favor if you do. Never fear
controversy. Embrace it. It makes us think.
Be careful what you write down. Be sure you really want to write it.
You are carving in stone. Is this how you want people to perceive you?
All creative people are a little
crazy. Nurture it. It’s what
makes us unique. It’s also what
gives us blog fodder.
Do you do ordinary things in an unusual way?
TELL US ABOUT IT.
Nonreaders have only one world
in which to dwell; readers live in
the universe - not just ours, but all
of them. And, living there, they
have much to say to each other
which a nonreader can’t begin to
appreciate the world more
because they have seen what it is,
what it has been, and what it
have more words
and more experiences
to connect to the
People want to know why I do this, why I write
such gross stuff. I like to tell them I have the
heart of a small boy... and I keep it in a jar on
my desk. -- Stephen King
Put your ear down close to your soul and listen
hard. --Anne Sexton
It makes little difference how
many university degrees or
courses a person may own.
If he cannot use words to
move an idea from one point
to another, his education is
--- Norman Cousins
The gentleman below (with my daughters) is Barrett Hansen,
but you probably know him better by another name. Because
of him, hundreds of writers have found success. There are all
kinds of writers, and to encourage them is a noble, if
occasionally “demented,” profession.
You don’t dot your i’s with little hearts
any more. (I hope.) Don’t use cutesy
code when you write; it’s hard to take
an adult seriously if she is still writing
as a pre-teen would write.
(OMG, the old broad’s not serious, LOL!)
In math, two negatives equal a positive.
The same is true in English grammar.
“I don’t want nothing” actually means “I do want
“I don’t hardly see your point” actually means “I see
your point, plain as day.”
Use one negative at a time or you’ll find yourself
saying the opposite of what you meant to say.
Our worst experiences can be our
best experiences. When we’ve
been through hell, writing about it
can help others avoid it.
Tempered steel and vulcanized
rubber are tough – strong, and
capable of withstanding
tremendous pressure. They get
that way by going through fire.
Apollo and the Muses
In ancient times, women were in charge of all things artistic and
creative. Without women, we would have no “music,”
“museums,” or “amusements.” Or any more men.
P.S. Now you know where a really
cool band got its name: from
We are a species that needs and
wants to understand who we are.
Sheep lice do not seem to share
this longing, which is one reason
why they write so little.
It's tougher than Himalayan yak
jerky in January. But, as any creative
person will tell you, there are days
when there's absolutely nothing
sweeter than creating something
-- Richard Krzemien
The difference between the right word and
the almost right word is the difference
between lightning and a lightning bug. --
I saved this one for last. It’s an interrobang.
The interrobang is the punctuational
equivalent of awesome, glorious, holy
cow, fantastic, and WTFOMG.
So, you don’t think you can write?
I beg to differ.
I’ve seen pigs fly before.
When we were children, we used to think
that when we were grown-up we would
no longer be vulnerable. But to grow up
is to accept vulnerability.... To be alive is
to be vulnerable. -- Madeline L’Engle
An Interlude, by William Sergeant Kendall, 1907