Saturday, 5 March 2011


Can't you tell you'd have listened to every word he said?


Did you see this post on Sherry's Dark Angel Fiction, Writing and Reviews Blog? I loved it! I've also got a date with a climbing wall and a things-are-getting-desperate end of season match to attend at Vicarage Road, home of WFC: - "Come on you Horns!" I'll be holding my breath at the first, but I  think it's the end of the road for Watford's promotion hopes. There is always next year ;)

Sherry posted:

The first 36 rules below are qouted by William Safire compiled from his October 7 and November 4, 1979 "On Language" columns in The New York Times. Rules 37 to 54 are taken from Safire's book, "Fumblerules: A Lighthearted Guide to Grammar and Good Usage."  


1.               Remember to never split an infinitive.
2.               A preposition is something never to end a sentence "with".
3.               The passive voice should never be used.
4.               Avoid run-on sentences they are hard to read.
5.               Don't use no double negatives.
6.               Use the semicolon properly, always use it where it is appropriate; and never where it isn't.
7.               Reserve the apostrophe for it's proper use and omit it when its not needed.
8.               Do not put statements in the negative form.
9.               Verbs have to agree with their subjects.
10.            No sentence fragments. (Trouble, again!)
11.            Proofread carefully to see if you words out.
12.            Avoid commas, that are not necessary.
13.            If you reread your work, you can find on rereading a great deal of repetition can be avoided by rereading and editing.
14.            A writer must not shift your point of view.
15.            Eschew dialect, irregardless.
16.            And don't start a sentence with a conjunction.
17.            Don't overuse exclamation marks!!!
18.            Place pronouns as close as possible, especially in long sentences, as of 10 or more words, to their antecedents.
19.            Hyphenate between sy-  llables and avoid un-necessary hyphens.
20.            Write all adverbial forms correct.
21.            Don't use contractions in formal writing.
22.            Writing carefully, dangling participles must be avoided. 
23.            It is incumbent on us to avoid archaisms.
24.            If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is.
25.            Steer clear of incorrect forms of verbs that have snuck in the language.
26.            Take the bull by the hand and avoid mixing metaphors. (:D)
27.            Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky.
28.            Never, ever use repetitive redundancies.
29.            Everyone should be careful to use a singular pronoun with singular nouns in their writing.
30.            If I've told you once, I've told you a thousand times, resist hyperbole.  
31.            Also, avoid awkward or affected alliteration.
32.            Don't string too many prepositional phrases together unless you are walking through the valley of the shadow of death.
33.            Always pick on the correct idiom.
34.            "Avoid overuse of 'quotation "marks."'"
35.            The adverb always follows the verb.
36.            Last but not least, avoid clichés like the plague; they’re old hat; seek viable alternatives.
37.            Never use a long word when a diminutive one will do.
38.            Employ the vernacular.
39.            Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.
40.            Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are unnecessary. 
41.            Contractions aren't necessary.
42.            Foreign words and phrases are not apropos.
43.            One should never generalize.
44.            Eliminate quotations. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "I hate quotations. Tell me what you know."
45.            Comparisons are as bad as clichés.
46.            Don't be redundant; don't use more words than necessary; it's highly superfluous.
47.            Be more or less specific.
48.            Understatement is always best.
49.            One-word sentences? Eliminate. (Umm . *blushes)
50.            Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake.
51.            Go around the barn at high noon to avoid colloquialisms.
52.            Who needs rhetorical questions?
53.            Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.
54.            capitalize every sentence and remember always end it with a point/full stop

These rules are clever. Funny. Why then, from the moment I read them, could I see there would be a few I'd knowingly break? Not for no reason is writing called creative. 
Which rule are you going to break the moment you open up your wip?


  1. you mean which rules have I already broken...
    for starters, parenthetical references (and they were all necessary), and ending with a prepositional phrase (I swear, it worked). I'm sure there's more but those two popped off your post. Ah well, what are rules for if not to break them occasionally?

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  3. I absolutely love this post. I found it to be very insightful, amusing as well, and helpful. I must admit though, I break most of them. I'm not a college grad and haven't been in an English class since 1994; so I know there's a lot to learn and brush up on. Thank you very much for the post Elaine. I'm really glad I follow you. Yours is such a rewarding blog for me to keep up with. :)

  4. Hi Marcy
    I'd be surprised if anyone suggested they'd broken none of the rules. There is a big difference between breaking rules as a stylistic choice and never knowing there were rules ;)

    Hi Kingskidd
    Thanks :D *blushes You are more than welcome. Having a story you want to tell combined with the need to write it goes a long way - it's the apprenticeship stage. The lucky are taught how to write but the lessons come for free in the books gathering dust on the library shelves.
    Enjoy the struggle to get your words onto the page, even if it seems all up hill, imagine the ride down the other side. :)