Tuesday, May 1, 2007

On Writing Well. Zinsser. Significant Sentences. Continued.

Significant Sentences: On Writing Well. Zinsser. Continued.

"...every profession has its growing arsenal of jargon to fire at the layman and hurl him back from its walls." p. 17.

"...inflated prepositions and conjunctions: 'with the possible exception of'' (except); 'for the reason that' (because); 'he totally lacked the ability to' (he couldn't); 'until such time as' (until); 'for the purpose of'' (for)." p. 17.

"Few people realize how badly they write.' p. 19.

"A writer is obviously at his most natural and relaxed when he writes in the first person.... I almost always urge people to write in the first person--to use 'I' and 'me' and 'we' and 'us.' " p. 22.

"If you aren't allowed to use 'I,' at least...write the first draft in the first person and then take the 'I's out." p. 24.

Elliot Richardson: " 'And yet, on balance, affirmative action has, I think, been a qualified success.' ...a thirteen-word sentence with five hedging words...give it first prize as the most wishy-washy sentence of the decade." p. 24. [Ray's note: "Wishy-washy" the sentence is, but I have read and reread that sentence and I can find only four (4) hedging words. Will someone please tell me where the fifth hedging word can be found in that sentence!]

"In fact, you will never make your mark as a writer unless you develop a respect for words and curiosity about their shades of meaning that is almost obsessive." p. 35.

"...the small gradations between words that seem to be synonymous ...difference between 'cajole,' 'wheedle,' 'blandish,' and 'coax.' " p. 37.

Thomas Paine's " 'These are the times that try men's souls': 'Times like these try men's souls'; 'how trying it is to live in these times'; 'these are trying times for men's souls'; 'soulwise, these are trying times.' " p. 45.

"In terms of craft, there is no excuse for losing the reader through sloppy workmanship." p. 27.

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