"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Concise Writing is Vigorous Writing

Channeling the spirit of E.B. White, here’s Chris Jones with 20 things that should rarely, if ever, appear in your copy:

1. Is your name F. Scott Fitzgerald? [Edit: Or Gene Weingarten?] No? Then take your adverbs out back and shoot them in the head and bury them in lime.

2. Popular culture references, unless you’re writing about popular culture, in which case you should probably occasionally refer to popular culture, but only through your clenched teeth. The names Sarah Palin, Donald Trump, Bilbo Baggins, and Lady Gaga should not appear in your copy unless you’re writing a story about three fictional characters and their chance encounter with a hobbit on a quest.

3. Any sentences that read as though they might have appeared in an academic text; therefore, “therefore” is not permitted. “Heretofore?” Get the f**k out.


1 Hank Waddles   ~  May 10, 2011 12:33 am

Like all lists like this -- or just all lists, I suppose -- I have some issues with some items, but it's definitely something to think about. Mainly, though, I'm glad to have found the site. Great stuff.

2 Alex Belth   ~  May 10, 2011 8:34 am

Yeah, Chris is one the better long form writers out there and his blog is wonderful.

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