In my last post, we looked at how some words can do double duty as both nouns and verbs. “Bike” can be a thing or an action. Some words have lots of meanings. A jack is a device for lifting a car or other heavy object. A jack is a playing card. Kids can play … More Know what I mean?
Pacific Standard magazine has an article this month about the shrinking number of rural churches in Iowa, and the effect it’s having on the local social fabric. “There is no glue holding these communities together,” says a sociologist from Iowa State University, “and it’s making us forget how to neighbor.” Oof. That’s the first time … More Verbing nouns
The first time I write for a publication or for a company, the first question I ask is, “Who’s your audience?” Because what I write will depend a lot on who will see it. Even my grocery list is going to look different depending on who’s doing the shopping this week. If I’m going to … More Who’s your audience?
I’ve been reading Elaine Sciolino’s new book, “The Only Street In Paris.” In addition to giving us a window on the social fabric of a Paris neighborhood, Sciolino offers some very skillful writing. Check out these lines where she’s describing the types of people who populate the street at different hours: By day, the rue … More Shifting tempo
Too much advice about writing seems to assume you have an infinite amount of time to get everything done. In real life we usually have to keep an eye the clock, or at least on the calendar. Working on newspapers and magazines, I quickly learned that deadlines are not mere suggestions. The story goes out … More Writing on deadline
While I’m not a big math person, I like basic math for being unambiguous. In our everyday world, 2 plus 2 is always 4. Even for complex math problems we know there’s still going to be only one right answer. Wouldn’t it be great if writing were like that? In a way, it is. But you … More How much is 4?