RE: Writing Skills - Importance Of?

Subject: RE: Writing Skills - Importance Of?
From: "Ackerson, Allan" <aackerson -at- logicon -dot- com>
To: "Carnall, Jane" <Jane -dot- Carnall -at- compaq -dot- com>, TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 9 Feb 2000 05:53:18 -0800

At the risk of sounding flip on the subject, I submit this old classic about
the rules of good writing:

* Verbs has to agree with their subjects.
* Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.
* And don't start a sentence with a conjunction.
* It is wrong to ever split an infinitive.
* Avoid cliches like the plague. (They're old hat.)
* Also, always avoid astonishing and annoying alliteration.
* Be more or less specific most of the time.
* Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are (usually) unnecessary.
* Also, too, never, ever use repetitive redundancies.
* No sentence fragments.
* Contractions aren't necessary and shouldn't be used.
* Foreign words and phrases are not apropos.
* Do not be redundant; do not use more words than necessary; it's
highly superfluous.
* One should never generalize.
* Comparisons are as bad as cliches.
* Don't use no double negatives.
* Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.
* One-word sentences? Eliminate.
* An analogy in writing is like putting silk stockings on a banty
rooster.
* The passive voice is to be avoided.
* Eliminate commas, that are, not necessary.
* Parenthetical words however should be enclosed in commas.
* Never use a big word when substituting a diminutive one would
suffice.
* Kill all exclamation points!!!
* Use words correctly, irregardless of how others use them.
* Understatement is always the absolute best way to put forth
earthshaking ideas.
* Use the apostrophe in it's proper place and omit it when its not
needed.
* Eliminate quotations. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "I hate
quotations. Tell me what you know."
* If you've heard it once, you've heard it a million times - Resist
hyperbole; not one writer in a trillion can use it correctly.
* Even if a mixed metaphor sings soprano, it should be derailed.
* Who needs rhetorical questions?
* Exaggeration is a quadrillion times worse than understatement.
* Avoid "buzzwords"; sharing integrated transitional scenarios
complicate simplistic matters, and rarely heal divisions.
* And finally . . . Proofread carefully to see if you any words out.

-----Original Message-----
From: Carnall, Jane [mailto:Jane -dot- Carnall -at- compaq -dot- com]
Sent: Wednesday, February 09, 2000 5:12 AM
To: TECHWR-L
Subject: RE: Writing Skills - Importance Of?


Chuck Martin said:

...I have seen well-managed projects that turned out crappy docs because
the writing was so horrible, from dense, user-unfriendly reference-oriented
information to bad grammar that obscured the meaning and the message.

Tony Markatos replys:

Wow! I have never seen such happen - fifteen years experience. Nor have I
heard of such - and I know a lot of tech communicators. Its a mystery!

Jane Carnall applauds:

Tony, this is so subtle! You convey your opinion of current standards of
writing among technical writers by including five deliberate errors in two
lines of text. (Almost *too* subtle... for a minute I didn't get it.)

Jane Carnall
Technical Writer, Compaq, France
Unless stated otherwise, these opinions are mine, and mine alone.

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