Fresh gibberish

Good editors help their clients to write clearly. At least they try to. Unfortunately, some clients dislike the simple, declarative sentence. This can be especially true with business executives who want to brag about how wonderful their companies are. They’ve been tricked into thinking that dense, convoluted sentences convey a kind of corporate gravitas. Or … More Fresh gibberish

Naming names

If you are writing fiction and having trouble making up character names, take a cue from people who have had to name themselves in real life. It’s hard for a cowboy to swagger into a saloon when his name is named Marion Morrison. But once he changed it to John Wayne, he sounded like he … More Naming names

Words and music

Dorothy Hammerstein was not shy about making sure that her husband, Oscar, got credit for his lyrics. There are several variations of an anecdote where she corrected someone who gave Jerome Kern all the credit for writing “Ol’ Man River.” “Mr. Kern did not write ‘Ol’ Man River.’ Oscar wrote ‘Ol’ Man River,’ ” she … More Words and music

Realism vs. reality

  For an exercise in fiction writing, record a few minutes of casual conversation between two people and then type it all out. Very quickly you’ll notice that most people don’t converse in carefully measured prose. No, they interrupt each other. They talk over each other. Speak in fragments. Go off on tangents. They repeat … More Realism vs. reality