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Do I Make Myself Clear?

The book, Do I Make Myself Clear?: Why Writing Well Matters by Harold Evans, should be required reading for all writers. This includes authors, journalists, bloggers, and twitter users.

The author is a legendary editor who has been knighted by the Queen of England. Throughout the book, Mr. Evans provides good and bad examples, revisions, and different tips.

He suggests 10 rules to write well:

  1. Get moving: avoid passive voice; cast sentences in the active voice.
  2. Be specific: eschew abstract words in favor of specific words.
  3. Ration adjectives, raze adverbs: ask yourself: is the adjective really necessary to define the subject of the sentence? Does the adverb really enhance the verb or adjective?
  4. Cut the fat, check the figures: avoid verbosity; write as concisely as possible.
  5. Organize for clarity: use parallel structure to put things that belong together.
  6. Be positive: write assertive sentences; even a negative should be expressed in a positive form.
  7. Don’t be a bore: eschew monotony by implementing different sentence structures.
  8. Put people first: make sentence bear directly on the reader.
  9. The pesky prepositions: use prepositions appropriately — they are the workhorses that link nouns; they tell us when, where, why, and how.
  10. Down with monologophobia (fear of using the same word twice in a sentence or successive sentences): do not develop other nouns when a pronoun will work just fine.


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