“Remember to never split an infinitive.”

William Safire’s Rules for Writers:

Remember to never split an infinitive.
The passive voice should never be used.
Do not put statements in the negative form.
Verbs have to agree with their subjects.
Proofread carefully to see if you words out.
If you reread your work, you can find on rereading a great deal of repetition can be by rereading and editing.
A writer must not shift your point of view.
And don’t start a sentence with a conjunction. (Remember, too, a preposition is a terrible word to end a sentence with.)
Don’t overuse exclamation marks!!
Place pronouns as close as possible, especially in long sentences, as of 10 or more words, to their antecedents.
Writing carefully, dangling participles must be avoided.
If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is.
Take the bull by the hand and avoid mixing metaphors.
Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky.
Everyone should be careful to use a singular pronoun with singular nouns in their writing.
Always pick on the correct idiom.
The adverb always follows the verb.
Last but not least, avoid cliches like the plague; seek viable alternatives.

And if you seek more knowledge, grasshopper, try William Safire’s How Not to Write.

Book Review Monday Chatter Writing

Dana View All →

Author and founder of Storyknife.org.

4 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Okay, granted I haven’t had my coffee yet, so my thinking’s not exactly snappy as a jumping spark. But I admit I can’t see an illustration in these two:
    Verbs have to agree with their subjects.
    The adverb always follows the verb.
    ? Or did he just put two in without the joke so I start out the week with a brain itch?

  2. Awww Dana you made me laugh out loud – he was always one of my favorite columnists. When I was learning how to speak English, I used to analyze his Sunday NYT column even before I tackled the funnies.

  3. I loved Though Not Dead, except for the confusion on someone’s part about the difference between “lay” and “lie” of which there were several instances in the book. “Lie” is an intransitive verb and DOES NOT take an object! Here’s a quick summary:
    Verb Infinitive Past Tense Past Participle
    lie lie lay lain
    lay lay laid laid

    And, the last word before the start of Chapter 24 can’t be right – it should be either “minutes” or “blocks”, not “months”! Thought you’d like to know when the reprint/paperbacks are done.

    Now I’m going to lay down my pen and lie down for awhile.

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