Ten Super Rules for Effective Writing

 Here is a fantastic list of tips for improving your writing that was given out by my professor, Derek Beaulieu.  It's really awesome - or, as he would say, totally tubular!

1. Use only concrete, physical nouns.

2. Choose the most specific possible nouns: "convertible" or "Mercedes", not "car."

3. Verbs must be active.  Avoid "to be" like it was Ebola.

4. Make the subject of the verb do something that subject doesn't normally do.  Not "the chainsaw cuts" or even "the chainsaw shreds" but "the chainsaw stencils the silence" (as Al Purdy said).

5. No adjectives!

6. But if you must use an adjective, it should not normally apply to the noun it modifies.

7. No adverbs!

8. But if you must use an adverb, it should modify its verb in a surprising or incongruous way.

9. Never compare anything to anything else (i.e., death to similes - no "like" or "as").  Juxtapose directly.

10. The things you juxtapose should be wildly unlike each other.  Not "The moon, a face" but e.e.cummings's "the moon rattles like a piece of angry candy."  Yes, that breaks the simile rule.

I hope those ideas inspire, encourage, or, at the least, irritate you.


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