Thursday, April 16, 2009

Fifty Rules for Writing Good

I'm reading Sleeping Dogs Don't Lay, a book for the grammatically challenged, because I'm on a continuous mission to improve my writing skills. Although most grammar books put me to sleep, this one is fun! Grammar? Fun? Yep!

The book contains a list of Fifty Rules for Writing Good that I plan to duct tape to the wall. And it seems fitting for a post to the Hack Writers' Guild. Each listed rule breaks its own rule.... Enjoy.

1. Each pronoun should agree with their antecedent.

2. Between you and I, pronoun case is important.

3. A writer must be sure to avoid sexist pronouns in his writing.

4. Verbs has to agree with their subjects.

5. Don't be a person whom people realize confuses who and whom.

6. Never use no double negatives.

7. Never use a preposition to end a sentence with. That is something up with which your readers will not put.

8. When writing, participles must not be dangled.

9. Be careful to never, under any circumstances, split infinitives.

10. Hopefully, you won't float your adverbs.

11. A writer must not shift your point of view.

12. Lay down and die before using a transitive verb without an object.

13. Join clauses good, like a conjunction should.

14. The passive voice should be avoided.

15. About sentence fragments.

16. Don't verb nouns.

17. In letters themes reports and ad copy use commas to separate items in a series.

18. Don't use commas, that aren't necessary.

19. "Don't overuse 'quotation marks.'"

20. Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are (if the truth be told) superfluous.

21. Contractions won't, don't, and can't help your writing voice.

22. Don't write run-on sentences they are hard to read.

23. Don't forget to use end punctuation

24. Its important to use apostrophe's in the right places.

25. Don't abbrev.

26. Don't overuse exclamation marks!!!

27. Resist Unnecessary Capitalization.

28. Avoid mispellings.

29. Check to see if you any words out.

30. One-word sentences? Never.

31. Avoid annoying, affected, and awkward alliteration, always.

32. Never, ever use repetitive redundancies.

33. The bottom line is to bag trendy locutions that sound flaky.

34. By observing the distinctions between adjectives and adverbs, you will treat your readers real good.

35. Parallel structure will help you in writing more effective sentences and to express yourself more gracefully.

36. In our own personal opinion at this point in time, we think that authors, when they are writing, should not get into the habit of making use of too many unnecessary words that they don't really need.

37. Foreign words and phrases are the reader's beet noire and are not apropos.

38. Who needs rhetorical questions?

39. Always go in search of the correct idiom.

40. Do not cast statements in the negative form.

41. And don't start sentences with conjunctions.

42. Avoid mixed metaphors. They will kindle a flood of confusion in your readers.

43. Eliminate quotations. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "I hate quotations. Tell me what you know."

44. Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake.

45. Go around the barn at high noon to avoid colloquialisms.

46. Be more or less specific.

47. If I've told you once, I've told you a thousand times, exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement, which is always best.

48. Never use a big word when you can utilize a diminutive word.

49. Profanity sucks.

50. Last but not least, even if you have to bend over backward, avoid cliches like the plague.

I'm going to break #43 right now to end on another quote from Ralph-
"Any fool can make a rule
And every fool will mind it"

Bring any and all thoughts or questions about grammar to the comments section.


  1. Thanks for sharing this, Kristina. My tape is ready and my bulletin board is filling up.

  2. Fantastic, Kristina!

    Ordinarily I would add something witty, but this list is so damn good there's nothing to add.

    "print" > tape to monitor!


  3. Two thumbs up for printers and duct tape! Glad you liked it :)

  4. Thanks for this!!! I am guilty of so many.