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Best Tips for Good Writing

When I taught a class in public relations at Columbia College in Chicago, a fellow teacher shared with me Frank Visco’s original list of tips for good writing, entitled How to Write Good.

Over the years, similar lists fell on my desk. I kept throwing additions and suggestions into a folder until last week, prior to a writing workshop in Melbourne, I re-assembled all of the best points together. It was a hit then, just as much as the original list.

Hope you enjoy the complete list.

  • A writer should not shift your point of view.
  • Alors!  Why use words from another language?
  • Always avoid alliteration.
  • Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake.
  • As you know, don’t repeat what the audience already understands.
  • Avoid &s and abbrev., etc.
  • Avoid clichés like the plague. They’re old hat.
  • Be careful of commas, that, are not, necessary.
  • Be more or less specific.
  • Choose words correctly, irregardless of how others use them.
  • Do not use hyperbole.  Only one in a million can do it effectively.
  • Don’t never use no double negatives.
  • Each sentence has one point, and you should write in short sentences too.
  • Exaggeration is a gazillion times worse than understatement.
  • Exclamation marks aren’t necessary!
  • If you reread your work, you can find on rereading a great deal of repetition can be eliminated by rereading and editing.
  • It behooves you to avoid archaic expressions.
  • It is wrong to ever split an infinitive.
  • It’s true when you think about this point: put the important message at the beginning of the sentence.
  • Just delete unnecessary words. No, really.
  • Like, you know, avoid colloquialisms.
  • Never use a big word when utilising a diminutive alternative would suffice.
  • No sentence fragments.
  • One should never generalize.
  • One-word sentences? Eliminate.
  • Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are unnecessary.
  • Passive voice is to be avoided.
  • Pick on the correct idiom.
  • Placing a comma between subject and predicate, is not correct.
  • Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.
  • Profanity sucks.
  • Proofread carefully to see if you any words out.
  • Subject and verb always has to agree.
  • Take the bull by the hand and avoid mixing metaphors.
  • The spell chekker helps to avoid mispelingz.
  • There’s no reason to repeat yourself, or say again what you’ve already said.
  • Use the apostrophe in it’s proper place and omit when its not needed.
  • Using more words than necessary is highly superfluous.
  • Who needs rhetorical questions?
  • Writing carefully, dangling participles must be avoided.

Any other suggestions you might add?  Please add your thoughts and comments below.

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Best Tips for Good Writing