Great Rules of Writing


Writing (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.

~William Safire, “Great Rules of Writing”

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  1. I disagree strongly with the second one. That applies to academic writing, but in fiction writing, there are plenty of novels that start sentences with conjunctions. It adds flavor to writing and style. I somewhat disagree with the first one too because it depends on your character and voice for that character. Especially since I write YA, modern teens wouldn’t really say, “She was unable to do it.” They’d say, “She couldn’t do it.” But I write first person, so there is a lot of flexibility with that.

    I mostly tend not to follow rules of writing. I used to religiously follow them but found my writing was flat. The only rule I follow anymore is “Don’t overdo it,” and obviously you can determine that by rereading and editing. Of course I’ll use basic grammar rules, but The Elements of Style (which is just what I see a lot of writers lauding) is so laughably outdated I can’t believe people are still treating it as some sort of writing bible.

    • I know, that’s why I thought it so funny!The thing is to know who your readers are and what you’re writing. After that, I suspect, it all falls into place. Pleased you read it and commented, anyway 🙂

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