Writing Topics: Style

Proofing and credibility

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I’ve just been reading and thoroughly enjoying The House of Silk, the new Sherlock Holmes novel, written by Anthony Horowitz. My enjoyment was only spoilt by the publishers’ apparent refusal to engage the services of a proofreader. I winced to read illiteracies such as “I remembered Carstairs telling Holmes and I that…”. Yet the grammatical […]

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Just because …

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I recently received an email asking if it was ever OK to begin a sentence with the word “because”. It’s definitely one of those words, like “and”, that people are reluctant to use at the start of sentences following years of tellings-off from dogmatic grammar teachers. The emailer also asked if, having decided that you […]

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The value of clichés

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I went to see an extraordinary new play recently – London Road at the National Theatre. It is a verbatim record of interviews with neighbours in London Road, Ipswich, in the aftermath of the murders of prostitutes by serial killer Steve Wright – performed by actors and set to music. The words themselves are unremarkable […]

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Once upon a time

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Are you ready for a bedtime story? Well, you’re going to be disappointed. This post is about the power of a good beginning, and the dangers of beginnings that raise the wrong expectations, like the one above. Here are two examples. One organisation I worked with recently started all its reports, no matter what the […]

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All you need to know about style

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From William Safire, quoted in the Guardian Style Guide: “Do not put statements in the negative form. And don’t start sentences with a conjunction. If you re-read your work, you will find on re-reading that a great deal of repetition can be avoided by re-reading and editing. Never use a long word where a diminutive […]

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