This is a great idea, because everybody knows that abortions are a classic impulse buy — one of those things you toss into the cart at checkout, like Us Weekly or Sugar Babies! …That’s why I am giving a well-deserved tip of my hat to South Dakota. Now let’s be clear, folks: this abortion law (requiring a three-day waiting period to get an abortion) is not limiting a woman’s rights. As South Dakota Dennis Daugaard said, ‘I hope that women who are considering abortion will use this three-day period to make good choices.’ See? He’s clearly pro-choice, in that he sometimes uses the word ‘choice.’
Now personally, I think any procedure a doctor performs should have a three-day waiting period — unless that procedure is to save the life of a handgun, because in South Dakota, there is no waiting period for guns of any kind! South Dakota backs a woman’s right to choose — as long as it’s between a .45 and a semi-automatic.
1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
This sounds easy, but in practice is incredibly difficult. Phrases such as toe the line, ride roughshod over, stand shoulder to shoulder with, play into the hands of, an axe to grind, Achilles’ heel, swan song, and hotbed come to mind quickly and feel comforting and melodic. For this exact reason they must be avoided. Common phrases have become so comfortable that they create no emotional response. Take the time to invent fresh, powerful images.
2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
Long words don’t make you sound intelligent unless used skillfully. In the wrong situation they’ll have the opposite effect, making you sound pretentious and arrogant. They’re also less likely to be understood and more awkward to read. When Hemingway was criticized by Faulkner for his limited word choice he replied:
“Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words? He thinks I don’t know the ten-dollar words. I know them all right. But there are older and simpler and better words, and those are the ones I use.”
3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
Great literature is simply language charged with meaning to the utmost possible degree (Ezra Pound). Accordingly, any words that don’t contribute meaning to a passage dilute its power. Less is always better. Always.
4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.
This one is frequently broken, probably because many people don’t know the difference between active and passive verbs. I didn’t myself until a few months ago. Here is an example that makes it easy to understand: The man was bitten by the dog. (passive)The dog bit the man. (active).The active is better because it’s shorter and more forceful.
5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
This is tricky because much of the writing published on the internet is highly technical. If possible, remain accessible to the average reader. If your audience is highly specialized this is a judgment call. You don’t want to drag on with unnecessary explanation, but try to help people understand what you’re writing about. You want your ideas to spread right? via.
but capital U’s on your scrolling electronic marquee look like V’s. if you could please just spell out your institution’s whole name rather than abbreviate, my wait for the bus would be much more pleasant -maybe less amusing though. everyday i look across the street and read “HIV is a Christian university integrating faith, service, and learning,” “Attend an upcoming HIV seminar,” etc.
found out today that i’m allergic to lanolin. i must part with my dear Aquaphor. not so dear anymore. i kept you in my pocket for years, and you ended up stabbing me in the back. my new lip balm: Alba Coconut Cream. heading to the tropics.
auditioning my teacher’s piece tomorrow with several people. choreographed to Apocalyptica’s version of “Enter Sandman.” i’ve never wanted to vigorously shake my head back and forth in time with four cellos played by Finnish dudes so much.