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Posts from the ‘On Writing’ Category

Did A Computer Or A Human Write This?

According to the New York Times, “a shocking amount of what we’re reading is created not by humans, but by computer algorithms.”

Really? I had no idea.

I understand that spam bots generate a lot of web content that ends up going into filters and never sees the light of day. But I was surprised by the amount of real, quality writing that’s actually generated by computers and their fancy algorithms.

Here’s an example from a quiz on the Times’ siteRead more

What Your Editor’s Notes Really Mean

If you’ve ever worked with an editor, you know that receiving a colorful track-changes-filled document back isn’t uncommon.

Some editors are straight to the point. Others can be a little too friendly and encouraging when tough love might work better.

In both cases, editors have their own little language with accompanying symbols. So it helps if you can interpret what they’re ACTUALLY saying and read between the lines. Having been brutally edited more times than I’d like to admit, I’m well-versed in editor speak.

So here’s my little guide to interpret what your editor actually means: Read more

V.S. Naipaul’s 7 Rules For Beginning Writers

Make no mistake—no matter what you think about V.S. Naipaul as a person, the man is an incredible writer.

With that, his advice on writing goes a long way. Here are his 7 tips for beginning writers (via Boing Boing), but I believe these rules are applicable for writers of any experience level. Read more

Punctuation, Ranked

Not all punctuation is created equal. In relation to English grammar, I believe some punctuation just flat out sucks and should rarely be used.

That’s what today’s post is about. This is a bare bones, no frills, blunt, completely subjective look at the deep, seedy, grimey world of English punctuation.

I’ll rank the ten most often used pieces of punctuation from bottom to top: Read more

T.S. Eliot Explains The Problem With Modern Day Writing

Keep in mind, he said this in 1921.

eliot

That comes from Eliot’s The Perfect Critic. Photo and credit to K Street Hipster on Twitter. 

I’ve read that quote several times. And, the more I read it, the more I realize how it’s about much more than just writing. It’s about debate and how we gain knowledge.

That last sentence really struck a chord with me: “And when we do not know, or when we do not know enough, we tend always to substitute emotions for thoughts.”

How insightful is that? Think of online debates about Michael Brown or Eric Garner. Think of any debate or argument, really, online or not. How often do we let emotion get in the way of rational thought?

Great stuff from T.S. Eliot more than 90 years ago.

Kingsley Amis On Writing Humor

I keep going back to this Paris Review interview with Kingsley Amis, just because it has so many good nuggets of wisdom and insight. And, yes, I just used the word “nugget.” Be thankful I didn’t say “moist nugget.”

Anyway, here’s what Amis has to say about writing humor: Read more

I’ll Have The Rejected Manuscript, Bartender

I’m shopping a book idea around at the moment, so I’ll take a strong rejected manuscript, please, on the rocks.

tomgauldcartoon

 

I’ve featured Tom Gauld on the blog before. His cartoons are awesome.

Check them out. 

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