Write down your outline. This will make it easier to develop topic sentences and to arrange your paragraphs in the most effective order. Write the brief outline, then list topic sentences for each of the paragraphs or sections of, say, your thesis or article.
Parallel construction: Sound boring? Well, if you don’t take heed of parallel construction, your writing Parallel structure means using the same pattern of words to show that two or more ideas have the same level of importance. For example, here’s what you should avoid: ‘Dr Duffy lectured, was shouting and waved his arms.’ Here’s the same information, but using parallel construction: ‘Dr Duffy lectured, shouted and waved his arms.’ That is so much more powerful.
IT/Business Journos: Does this sound familiar? “My organisation believes in three-dimensional third-generation projections.” Or ” The consultants recommend remote transitional flexibility”. Avoid the jargon and the buzzwords. They confuse the reader and often render your piece of communication useless. Just for fun, can anyone translate these sentences into Plain English?
Some simple writing tips from Em & En Word Craft:
• For journalists, articles should follow the ‘inverted pyramid’ structure: begin with the most important parts of your story – the who, what, where, why, when and how – followed by the details to flesh out this summary. Conclude with a broader context or background information.
• Use inclusive language. Be mindful of using gendered terms or any words that exclude groups of people.
• If you can express a point in fewer words, go for the shorter version. It carries more of a punch.
• Use active case, not passive unless you have to.
Comma Talks from the Working Pilgrim:
“The term “Oxford comma” refers to the Oxford University Press, whose house style is to use the serial comma. (The public-relations department at Oxford doesn’t insist on it, however. Presumably P.R. people see it as a waste of time and space. The serial comma is a pawn in the war between town and gown.) To call it the Oxford comma gives it a bit of class, a little snob appeal. Chances are that if you use the Oxford comma you brush the crumbs off your shirtfront before going out.” For more from this entertaining article, please visit http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/02/23/holy-writ – The Comma Queen.
A new book called ‘Expatland’ (trademarked) is on the horizon soon. I have been working with the writer, John Marcarian, founder of CST Tax Advisors, for some months. It is the perfect book for expats or would-be expats, outlining everything you need to know about making the big move to work overseas. I’ll keep you posted when it’s available.
Writing is a craft that requires concentration, regular practice and plain determination. Even if you don’t feel like the Muse is speaking to you today, flex your mental muscles, tell your mind to shut up with its negative talk – and write at least a page. That way, you will learn the art of self-discipline and you’ll be surprised how a good writing habit is formed.
I first went to India in 1974 as a very young woman and surprisingly didn’t return to Australia for a decade. I thought I was just going to explore my spiritual mecca for a short period but ended up living in an ashrama and doing volunteer work as a teacher, seamstress, editor and general Jill of all Trades. In those pioneer days, just to make a phone call to Calcutta (now Kolkata) meant booking the call two days in advance and then having to shout and scream down the phone to be heard. Yesterday I arrived in the same place for what has become an annual stay of three months. Today I had wireless internet installed and I’m ready and set up to service my clients from around the world. Don’t you just love technology!
For authors and editors, the evergreen ‘Strunk and White’ is a great reference. Many of us don’t know when to use semi-colons and often misuse them. Here is what Strunk and White says about the matter: “Do not join independent clauses by a comma. If two or more clauses grammatically complete and not joined by a conjunction are to form a single compound sentence, the proper mark of punctuation is a semi-colon. [EG] ‘It is nearly half past five; we cannot reach town before dark.’