Wednesday, July 21, 2010

For the Writers

Working in a bookstore I must say I was surprised to discover I was only one of two writers on staff. (A high-five goes out to my fellow coworker and compatriot, Kelsey.) While I know that obviously not all readers are writers, it is fairly true that most writers are readers. If ever there was a place to nestle into in between bouts of madness, err, authorial genius, it is surely a bookstore – I didn’t suspect I’d be one of the few (the proud?) to land amidst the stacks. Yet here I am: the resident oddball poet and novel scribbler.

It wasn’t long after I read my first book that I wrote my first short story (a saccharine tale about a girl that fell to Earth in a raindrop – every bit as youthful and trite as you probably imagine). For me writing and reading are intertwined, and both are as normal and necessary as breathing. And so I compile this entry for my fellow wordsmiths. Whether you pen novels, poetry, short stories, essays, letters, or even the occasional lengthy diary entry, I salute you. After all, without the writers this store would have remarkably empty shelves.

William Safire's Great Rules of Writing:

Do not put statements in the negative form.

And don't start sentences with a conjunction.

If you reread your work, you will find on rereading that a
great deal of repetition can be avoided by rereading and editing.

Never use a long word when a diminutive one will do.

Unqualified superlatives are the worst of all.

De-accession euphemisms.

If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is.

Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky.

Last, but not least, avoid cliches like the plague.

For a more serious list of guidelines, Janet Fitch, author of White Oleander, has a list of Ten Rules for Writers that she recently shared with the LA Times. You can read them here.

And if you just want to waste a little time and have a giggle check out the I Write Like site and have your writing analyzed and compared to a famous author.

- t

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