Category Archives: Writing in its natural habitat

Spot the Writing Error–NFL Edition


Let’s start 2011 with an easy round of Spot the Error, courtesy of today’s sports news: What’s wrong with this article? Answer (posted 8 January 2011): It’s right there in the headline. The word they wanted was eke, not eek. … Continue reading

Posted in Word Choice, Writing in its natural habitat | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Agatha Christie and the Case of the Messy Notebooks


How did Agatha Christie—author of more than 70 novels, more than 140 short stories, and 22 plays—manage to generate and keep track of all of the ideas that went into her works? How did she develop the characters with their … Continue reading

Posted in Creativity, Writer's toolbox, Writing in its natural habitat | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Bad news. Bad form.


Writing well is more than just being good with words. You have to weigh factors like what your message is, what are the likely emotions that it will evoke, and who you’re delivering the message to. With those thoughts in … Continue reading

Posted in Audience, Writing in its natural habitat | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Cutting unneeded words


Spotted this one over at Matthew Stibbe’s Bad Language blog: (Click for a larger view.) I thought this ad was clever; by using the red strike-through, the key message—“BlueMotion saves you money”—is emphasized, but readers who want to know more … Continue reading

Posted in Elsewhere on the Web, Writing in its natural habitat | Leave a comment

“Personal pet peeve”


I encountered another pleonasm—that is, the use of more words than needed to express an idea—the other day while listening to a podcast: “…my personal pet peeve…” A pet peeve is, by definition, personal; there is no other kind of … Continue reading

Posted in pleonasms, Word Choice, Writing in its natural habitat | 3 Comments

Is bad writing actually good for something?


Can bad writing actually be good for something? How about some laughs? The Feminist Law Professors blog has collected some of the best examples of writing that doesn’t quite say what the author intended: the Annals of Bad Writing.

Posted in Humor, Writing in its natural habitat | 2 Comments

UPDATED! In class exercise: What’s wrong here?


Yesterday, my wife and I received the following letter from a company that manages some of our investments: Dear Shareholder:The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is responsible for the oversight of financial services companies acting as broker-dealers to ensure investment … Continue reading

Posted in Writing in its natural habitat | 3 Comments

Beware of metaphor overload


I’ve written before about using metaphors to help make abstract concepts easier for readers to grasp. However, you have to be careful not to overload your writing with metaphors, as The Wall Street Journal’s online editorial page illustrates with a … Continue reading

Posted in Writing in its natural habitat | Leave a comment

Simplify, simplify, simplify!


“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” —Albert Einstein My middle daughter is on the school swim team, and one of the many handouts we get is a “Student & Parent Handbook.” And every year that … Continue reading

Posted in Writing in its natural habitat | 5 Comments

Are you writing static or active text?


Lee LeFever of Common Craft has an interesting blog post about social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, and has borrowed some ideas from the systems dynamics field to evaluate them. I can’t help but think about the whole idea … Continue reading

Posted in Writing in its natural habitat | 2 Comments