Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.
— Philip K. Dick, How To Build A Universe That Doesn’t Fall Apart Two Days Later (1978)
Each little blurry light in this picture is a galaxy, full of billions of stars. This is just from one tiny square of the sky. It goes on endlessly, even if we don't know about it.
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Fare well, one of our favorite wordsmiths
- Remember to never split an infinitive.
- The passive voice should never be used.
- Do not put statements in the negative form.
- Verbs have to agree with their subjects.
- Proofread carefully to see if you words out.
- If you reread your work, you can find on rereading a great deal of repetition can be by rereading and editing.
- A writer must not shift your point of view.
- And don’t start a sentence with a conjunction. (Remember, too, a preposition is a terrible word to end a sentence with.)
- Don’t overuse exclamation marks!!
- Place pronouns as close as possible, especially in long sentences, as of 10 or more words, to their antecedents.
- Writing carefully, dangling participles must be avoided.
- If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is.
- Take the bull by the hand and avoid mixing metaphors.
- Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky.
- Everyone should be careful to use a singular pronoun with singular nouns in their writing.
- Always pick on the correct idiom.
- The adverb always follows the verb.
- Last but not least, avoid cliches like the plague; seek viable alternatives.
William Safire (December 17, 1929 – September 27, 2009), Rules for Writers, from On Language
Tags: english, etymologists, etymology, grammar, literature, punctuation, quotation, quotations, quote, quotes, safire, sayings, syntax, william safire, words, wordsmith, writers, writing
Usually, writers will do anything to avoid writing.
For instance, the previous sentence was written at one o’clock this afternoon. It is now a quarter to four. I have spent the past two hours and forty-five minutes:
- Sorting my neckties by width,
- looking up the word paisly in three dictionaries,
- attempting to find the town of that name on The New York Times Atlas of the World map of Scotland,
- sorting my reference books by width,
- trying to get the bookcase to stop wobbling by stuffing a matchbook cover under its corner,
- dialing the telephone number on the matchbook cover to see if I should take computer courses at night,
- looking at the computer ads in the newspaper and deciding to buy a computer because writing seems to be so difficult on my old Remington,
- reading an interesting article on sorghum farming in Uruguay that was in the newspaper next to the computer ads,
- cutting that and other interesting articles out of the newspaper,
- sorting – by width – all the interesting articles I’ve cut out of newspapers recently,
- fastening them neatly together with paper clips and making a very attractive paper clip necklace and bracelet set…
…which I will present to my girlfriend as soon as she comes home from the three-hour low-impact aerobic workout that I made her go to so I could have some time alone to write.
– P.J. O’Rourke, The Wit and Wisdom of P. J. O’Rourke
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