There are NO "wrong words"--and don't let them tell you different - Page 2


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Thread: There are NO "wrong words"--and don't let them tell you different

  1. #11
    Baron
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    i fink this fred iz veri intresting and i wonder wot wood appen if i rote a hole bewk like this and then sent it to a publisher do u fink he wud considder spending munny on printing it and promowting it or would he fink it a lode of rubish and reeject it and if it did get into print would anyone want to reed it or would it be considerd nonsenss do u conssider it wurf trying or is it a stoopid idea or wot could itt suck seed

  2. #12
    The thing about reductio ad absurdum is that it is not only absurd... it reduces
    See my books Hidden Content (and in heaven).

  3. #13
    There are different kinds of writing and there are different kinds of rules for each.

    In broadcast news writing, making the active voice voice the dominant voice in a story creates a feeling of something happening. Short active-voice subject-verb-object sentences have the news reader running down the street chasing the story. A longer passive voice sentence allows him to pause and catch his breath. No radio listener or tv viewer analyses what they hear that way, but the effect is there nonetheless. This is not make-believe. This is how the world works in real time.

    There are two sets of rules for writers. There are the Alice-in-Wonderland rules: All adverbs are bad. Never use anything but the active voice. Never do this. Always do that.

    Then there are 'rules' that aren't really rules. They are like the spellings and definitions given in dictionaries. Dictionary compilers do not make up the spelling of words, nor do they make up the definitions of words. The spellings and definitions are derived from the way writers spell and use the words. Rules like the one above regarding active voice use in broadcast news is one such rule. Any longtime broadcast news writer who has paid attention to the audience will tell you that the listener tends to be more engaged when the active voice is the dominant voice in a story. The passive voice is useful in controlling the pace of the story.

    I've never accepted writing as an art form. It's a craft, and like any craft must be studied and learned. Success comes to those who are skilled at their craft. Lin has, as he points out, been very successful. Whether he wants to admit it or not, he has been successful by following all, all, of the basic rules of good writing. He is a skilled craftsman. If he wants also to be called an artist, that is his affair.

    Perhaps the worst writing rule of all is the rule that says there are no rules.
    El día ha sido bueno. La noche será larga.

  4. #14
    But there is NO kind of writing where a rule is "don't use adverbs" or "don't use "_ing" endings. None of this has anything to do with craft. Or art for that matter.
    See my books Hidden Content (and in heaven).

  5. #15
    Those are 'Alice-in-Wonderland' rules and have nothing to do with the real world.

    I teach young news writers to avoid the over-use of adverbs and wherever possible to use a stronger form of the verb than the -ing form, but of course adverbs are needed or they would not have been invented. Same goes for -ing verbs.

    I agree completely with you on one point, the silliness of the saying that you have to know the rules before you are allowed to break them.

    The word 'rules' is really a bad way of describing what I'm thinking of. A better term would be 'common usage' or 'current accepted usage' or some such.
    El día ha sido bueno. La noche será larga.

  6. #16
    There is no such thing as a "stronger" ending than "ing", just different endings.
    See my books Hidden Content (and in heaven).

  7. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Baron View Post
    i fink this fred iz veri intresting and i wonder wot wood appen if i rote a hole bewk like this and then sent it to a publisher do u fink he wud considder spending munny on printing it and promowting it or would he fink it a lode of rubish and reeject it and if it did get into print would anyone want to reed it or would it be considerd nonsenss do u conssider it wurf trying or is it a stoopid idea or wot could itt suck seed
    Works if you're writing Flowers For Algernon.
    "Ammonia will disinfect sin."
    --adrianhayter

    "Art is life, just add bull****."
    --Chris Miller

  8. #18
    Lin - Perhaps 'stronger' is the wrong word for what I mean. 'The club will be meeting Tuesday' is okay but a bit less definite or noise/distraction-penetrating as 'the club will meet Tuesday' or better 'the club meets Tuesday'. I don't just sit and make this stuff up. Ideas like this come from 55 years of in-the-trenches news writing and asking listeners 'did you hear the story about the club? When is their next meeting'?

    Newspaper writing has another set of usage guidelines. Almost all magazines have their own requirements and quirky feature editors often have their own guidelines in addition to the general requirements for the magazine.

    The word 'rules' seems to be the problem. Rules for writing are like rules for sex. Some are useful, like avoiding the back seat of a Volkswagen with a really big girl.

    When I have talked about rules for writing I'm afraid everyone has assumed I mean those jackass Alice-in-Wonderland 'rules' that you keep mentioning. Somewhere else here I have gone to some lengths to describe what I consider the essential rules, like having the ability to connect with the mind of the reader/listener. Somehow I've had less success doing that here than I have out in the public speaking to and writing for people who are not writers or wannabe writers.
    El día ha sido bueno. La noche será larga.

  9. #19
    Honoured/Sadly Missed The Backward OX's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by garza View Post
    Somewhere else here I have gone to some lengths to describe what I consider the essential rules, like having the ability to connect with the mind of the reader/listener. Somehow I've had less success doing that here than I have out in the public speaking to and writing for people who are not writers or wannabe writers.
    Amen to that. It's not only about writers and wannabe writers. Most people here and in similar venues are either too frickin' stupid, or in too much of a rush, or too disinterested, to communicate effectively.

    On the other hand, for those who want to learn, you are one of a select few able to get their message across in an online medium and be understood.

  10. #20
    Writing for publication only requires an editor to take a chance on the piece and bother sending it further up. He might think it's profitable but completely unreadable. Those aren't rules for writing; those are rules for publication in specific venues (even then, some authors can get published writing lipstick on toilet paper).

    For every rule, there's somebody out there that's broken it--and probably at least one person who's gotten published doing it. That doesn't mean that anybody can break a 'rule' and get published, but getting published is also entirely different from writing well (lots of trash gets published; lots of great stuff doesn't). Nobody can govern with their 'rules' what someone can write for their own enjoyment, and to that extent, there are no rules for witing. It's when publishing and readership and marketability and printing costs get involved that guidelines can seem an awful lot like rules.

    BTW, garza, I do get what you're talking about. I'm pretty sure what Lin set out about was the Alice-in-Wonderland rules. My points stem more from Voltaire-ian thought: You can write whatever the hell you please, even if I don't like or agree with it, even if I think it's based around a stupid idea or poorly written.
    Last edited by seigfried007; July 25th, 2010 at 04:20 AM.
    "Ammonia will disinfect sin."
    --adrianhayter

    "Art is life, just add bull****."
    --Chris Miller

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