How to write good

Written by Frank L. Visco and originally published in the June 1986 issue of Writers' digest.

My several years in the word game have learnt me several rules:

  1. Avoid Alliteration. Always.

  2. Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.

  3. Avoid cliches like the plague. (They’re old hat.)

  4. Employ the vernacular.

  5. Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.

  6. Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are unnecessary.

  7. It is wrong to ever split an infinitive.

  8. Contractions aren’t necessary.

  9. Foreign words and phrases are not apropos.

  10. One should never generalize.

  11. Eliminate quotations. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.”

  12. Comparisons are as bad as cliches.

  13. Don’t be redundant; don’t use more words than necessary; it’s highly superfluous.

  14. Profanity sucks.

  15. Be more or less specific.

  16. Understatement is always best.

  17. Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.

  18. One word sentences? Eliminate.

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

  20. The passive voice is to be avoided.

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

  22. Even if a mixed metaphor sings, it should be derailed.

  23. Who needs rhetorical questions?

Anyway - Celeste, you made me smile, which I needed today - so thank you x

s gr8 init? shunt we b tokin txt spk now? I had this conversation with an English teacher recently. I was told 'language evolves - text speak is the latest evolution' And yes Catharine - u need 2 work yer grotte :)

We have some phonetics if you ever wanna call Celeste. Aye, but then I get a wee bittie stook atween hielan Scots, Straßendeutsch and sarf London talkin to dis day. Posh edicating didn get right fru my 'ead, certinly didn get to me marf.

Wickid bro innit.


Jaysuis, will ya luk what hapens when I turned me back for one evning. Jaysus Celeste, for feck's sake. I was tryin to do posh Irish -now you;ve ruined it,.

Shaaaaaatup. ( Sarf london) !!!

Grotte exercise? OMG - I have a lady grotto?????

tttt up

Dear Celeste - please stop before I have to purchase some Tena lady pads ( because I is weeing meeself) :)

Utterly brilliant Celeste - you are a goddess!!!

No, Celeste - generalise means to look everywhere dunnit? Analogies, used to buy 'em at the sweet shop every Friday, I liked the one with licorice in them. Colloquialisms, the blokes who built Roman and Greek buildings cos they all had colloquials to hold the roofs on. A mixed metaphor is a type of Italian soup, with more things in it than mini-strone. Easy, I know me grammer and vocabulations.

I love it! Ha!

It got a bit gnarled because Dave wasn't up when I ragged Howard, us being two minutes apart, so I didn't get his smiley... boohooo!

I got that Dave due to your use of the smiley face. Maybe that should be rule no 24 - "When in doubt add a quizzical looking emoticon'....

Right. (Point 13)

Dunno, but ta very much for the doings.

Like what you do was normal where I growed up mate, I were poking fun at 'Oward one befores yer. 'n 'e was raggin it anyways. Right or right?

Brian, my comment was tongue in cheek. Is one allowed to say that when one writes like what I do?

Oh gawd, it's plain American English and pick up the humour in each of the 23 points and you'll get the bigger joke.

I suppose, "How to write good" the title of the blog is accepted by some reader's of the blog as OK? :-)