7 8 9 10 11 Displaying 57-63 of 185 Articles

If — two letters, one little puff of breath between tongue and teeth—ranks high among language's most powerful and mysterious words: little if can build all the castles in Spain. The dictionary calls if a conjunction meaning "supposing that"; I call if a trigger word, one that signals and sets off the extraordinary mental process we call imagination.  Continue reading...
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Negative writing tips, I find, can be just as helpful as a positive ones. And, often, they're far more memorable. Here, then, are 17 things you should stop doing immediately, if you want to improve your writing.  Continue reading...
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Michael Lydon has contributed columns regularly here about the writer's art, but for this installment we asked him to tackle a form of writing with which he is particularly familiar: songwriting. Lydon has written about popular music since the '60s, and he also writes and performs his own music. Here he presents some songwriting advice from his "sometimes agonizing, sometimes blissful experience."  Continue reading...
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There's a funny ad on TV right now about a guy named Dave. A red-headed man with a beard, he wanders into his office and greets a large number of other bearded red-headed guys also named Dave. Someone named Dave is fixing the photocopier while a mail delivery person, also named Dave, arrives with a package for, you guessed it, Dave.  Continue reading...
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With the 200th birthday of Charles Dickens approaching (get your party hats ready for February 7th!), it's a good time to gauge the enormous impact he had on the English language. By many accounts he was the most widely read author of the Victorian era, and no writer since has held a candle to him in terms of popularity, prolificness, and influence in spreading new forms of the language — both highbrow and lowbrow.  Continue reading...
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To be or not to be, that is the question.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.

Happy families are all alike, unhappy families are unhappy each in their own way.

What do these famous sentences have in common? They are all general statements.  Continue reading...
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"Writers struggle to get the right words down in the right order, to put every comma, or nearly every comma, in its proper place; and readers follow the writers' final sequence of words and commas as printed on the page," Michael Lydon writes, "but what happens between writer and reader is far more amorphous, more emotional than the precision needed for the process would suggest."  Continue reading...
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7 8 9 10 11 Displaying 57-63 of 185 Articles