Monday, September 28, 2009

William Safire's rules for writing

In memory of William Safire, I'm reposting his famous rules for writing:

  • Remember to never split an infinitive.
  • The passive voice should never be used.
  • Do not put statements in the negative form.
  • Verbs have to agree with their subjects.
  • Proofread carefully to see if you words out.
  • If you reread your work, you can find on rereading a great deal of repetition can be avoided by rereading and editing.
  • A writer must not shift your point of view.
  • And don’t start a sentence with a conjunction. (Remember, too, a preposition is a terrible word to end a sentence with.)
  • Don’t overuse exclamation marks!!!
  • Place pronouns as close as possible, especially in long sentences, as of 10 or more, to their antecedents.
  • Writing carefully, dangling participles must be avoided.
  • If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is.
  • Take the bull by the hand and avoid mixing metaphors.
  • Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky.
  • Everyone should be careful to use a singular pronoun with singular nouns in their writing.
  • Always pick on the correct idiom.
  • The adverb always follows the verb.
  • Unqualified superlatives are the worst of all.
  • Never use a long word when a diminutive one will do.
  • Never, ever use repetitive redundancies.
  • Also, avoid awkward or affected alliteration.
  • Last but not least, avoid cliches like the plague.

1 comment:

Dan Stringer said...

Brilliant. He will certainly be missed.