7 Rules of Writing from a Recovering Social Scientist

1.)    Writing is always and everywhere an act of communication. Behave accordingly.
[a.k.a. the MASTER RULE from which all subsequent rules flow]

2.)    While there is an inherent tradeoff between clarity and precision of writing, write with as much clarity as your audience will allow.

Clarity: “The legal pad is yellow.”
Precision: “This particular legal pad, which I hold in my hand, is, when struck with white light, a shade of yellow that is commonly called Maize or, alternatively, #FBEC5D.”

3.)    The reader is not an enemy to be conquered:
All else being equal, use the word the reader is most likely to know.

[Note: I used “all else being equal” and not ceteris paribus… even though the latter would have nicely conveyed to readers how much smarter I am than them.]

4.)     Pick useless verbiage out of your writing like Bubba roots the pulled pork out of his teeth after a trip to the all-you-can-eat B-B-Q buffet. Or, as Strunk and White said, “Omit needless words.”

5.)    Know the difference between rules inviolate (don’t dangle your participles), rules to be bent (sometimes you should end your sentence in a preposition) , and rules created by a pompous gas-bag trying to prove he knew the rules of Latin (split your infinitives regularly and with relish – sorry, “to boldly go” just sounds better than “to go boldly”)

6.)    Put quantities into a form comprehensible to the reader.

$700 billion USD is approximately the size of:
a.)    the US defense budget

    • or

b.) the national income of Poland

7.)    Don’t be afraid to be interesting and provocative.

About B Gourley

Bernie Gourley is a writer living in Bangalore, India. His poetry collection, Poems of the Introverted Yogi is now available on Amazon. He teaches yoga, with a specialization in pranayama, and holds a RYT500 certification. For most of his adult life, he practiced martial arts, including: Kobudo, Muay Thai, Kalaripayattu, and Taiji. He is a world traveler, having visited more than 40 countries around the globe.
This entry was posted in essay, Flash-writing, Humor, Writing and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s