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One Writer's Ravings:       A Logophile's Blog for Language Lovers      

Talk Is the Enemy of Writing

Some time ago I received this query from a reader: "Recently, I made my brother mad advocating that I don't use words in my writing if I don't use them comfortably in my conversation. I was following William Zinsser's plea from his book On Writing Well. However, in Glenda Winders' feature on your book The Accidents of Style you said that 'too many writers think they are supposed to write the way they speak, and what happens is they come out sounding silly, lazy, and full of accidents of style.' I'm confused."

This was my answer:  Read More 
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Don't Stupidsize Me

After my book Verbal Advantage was published ten years ago, I was invited to be a guest on salon.com, answering questions in an author forum called “Table Talk.” It was a lively discussion. At one point a participant commented that many of the keywords in the book struck her as “trivia questions more than elements of a working vocabulary.” And she asked, “As much fun as it is to know a word like sciamachy [fighting with a shadow or an imaginary opponent], do you really think it should be part of everyday discourse?” This was my response: Read More 
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Words Into Typo

In my last post — more than a month ago (sorry, I’ve been busy) — I promised to enter the publishing confessional and tell you about some of the exasperating mistakes that squeaked by my copyeditors, proofreaders, and my own squiffy eyeballs and became enshrined in my books. If you can groan and bear it, read on. Read More 
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