Embarrassingly Old Work: Shorts: Don’t Make Your Title Too Long, and Other Common Mistakes – From 1997

I am the greatest writer in the world. I will help you become a great writer, too, because, as I said before, I am the greatest writer in the world. First of all, never repeat yourself. I always leave all redundancy, repetitiveness, and dead wood out, so I don’t wind up making my sentences to long so that no one, even the greatest minds in the world (of which I am one) can comprehend them. I never make sweeping generalizations, like all those Cornell students do, and if you want to be as successful as I am, you’ll have to leave generalizations out also. Oh, and don’t make refferences that people won’t understand. Only someone like Tim Pyznarski does that.

I’ve never been a fan of the small paragraph. It just doesn’t work sometimes.

In order to write well, you have to use proper punctuation; semicolons included. Don’t use too many contractions, and don’t comma splice, you never know when this advice will come in handy. Periods are designed to end sentences where they should be ended, and to stop mere amateurs from babbling on like idiots, while other people mock them incessantly for babbling on and repeating themselves, which happens all the time. Oh, yeah. Fragments are just as bad as run-ons.

I never make any assumptions of the reader’s knowledge while I write, which you should have figured out already. Another thing to steer crystal clear of is the cliche and the over-used similie, especially if it makes as little sense as a best selling how-to guide. Even though cliches are American as apple-pie, they are also as dead as doornails. Don’t use too many negatives, and above all, never prioritize. First of all, you should never list your points in order. Lastly, do not make a list of only two things.

Your wit must be a sharp as a tack, and your mind has to be tough as nails for you to think of a clever quip every time you need one. But here is the thing – stick to a formal tone when you a writing. And don’t use colloquialisms, okay man? But you have to be as cool as a cucumber when you try and pull off a job like this. And don’t start sentences with conjunctions. Above all, we should all listen to our high school teachers, just like I did, when they told us not to use “I”, “we”, and “you” in a formal paper. Both you and me could stand to gain from their advice.

Never contradict yourself, except in situations which call for it, which never happen. When those situations do arise, though, restate your point, but don’t repeat yourself. And revert to long paragraphs. That always diverts the eye of the reader.

Becoming a great writer is as easy as pie, once you know what you shouldn’t do, which is pretty much everything, unless you already know what not to do, in which case you’ll be fine, unless you aren’t. Like I said, piece of cake.

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