1 2 3 4 5 Displaying 15-21 of 55 Articles

If writing teachers have any absolutely verboten, don't-go-there, not-on-your-life, no-no rule, it is: "Avoid vague qualifiers!" Yet in recently re-reading The Bulwark, Theodore Dreiser's last and perhaps greatest novel, I began to see a value in vague qualifiers that I'd never seen before.  Continue reading...
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Yes, it's been said before, but let's say it again: writing lives on the life writers pack into their writing. Get only a little life into your poetry or prose, and your writing will soon starve, dwindle, and die. Get a lot of life into your poetry or prose, and your writing may live forever.  Continue reading...
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We all like good writing and dislike bad writing; we all want to write well, not badly. Yet the words "good" and "bad," when applied to any work of art are so much matters of taste that they often seem empty as definitions and arbitrary as categories.  Continue reading...
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Proverbs are defined as "short sayings in common use that strikingly express some obvious truth or familiar experience" or "condensed but memorable sayings embodying important facts of experience taken as true by many people." Agreeing with both, I add: proverbs make dependable, invaluable bricks of human wisdom.  Continue reading...
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In his fascinating book (and 1994 best-seller) The Language Instinct, Stephen Pinker argues convincingly that we humans are born with an instinct to communicate with our voices. How humans in China form and arrange their communicative vocal sounds differs markedly from how humans in Finland do, but, Pinker asserts, beneath the many world's languages lies one universal language, an inborn ability to spin webs of words much as spiders spin webs of silk and beavers build dams of tree trunks and branches.  Continue reading...
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Hi! Hey! Ho! Yo! Ahem. Good day, ladies and gentlemen, umm, I'd like to address you today about the silly little words that we, umm, use without knowing if they're words or not: words like hey, hi, ho, yo, ahem, and umm. Here's hoping you don't find the topic ho-hum. (Oy, is anyone out there listening?)  Continue reading...
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"Calling a work of art ordinary is not ordinarily considered praise," Michael Lydon writes, "but I use the term as a lustrous laurel wreath." In particular, he singles out Anthony Trollope as a master of using language to depict ordinary human life: "not what we think life would, should, or could be like, but what life truly is like."  Continue reading...
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1 2 3 4 5 Displaying 15-21 of 55 Articles