// Internet Duct Tape

Rules of Thumb for Writing

Posted in Becoming a Better Blogger, Technology by engtech on January 18, 2008

When writing a magazine article, begin with a snappy lead sentence, then write the piece to match the tone of the lead. Before submitting the article, delete the lead sentence.
Gordon Hard, assistant editor, Consumer Reports, Mount Vernon, New York

When writing short copy (taglines, headlines, etc.) give yourself one minute per word. If you don’t have a great five-word headline in the first five minutes of brainstorming, take a break and try again later.
Adam Kellogg, Writer, Chesterton, IN, USA

When in doubt, use the semicolon; the average reader won’t understand its use and will give you credit for erudition.
Denis Smith, high school counselor, Camarillo, California

If you are not sure if you should use a semi-colon, use a comma. If you are not sure if you should use a comma, use a period. If you are not sure if you should use a period: quit writing.
Raymond Schultz, U. S. Army Retired, United States of America

Limit yourself to one thought per sentence. The sentences will end up with different lengths, because some thoughts will be long and some short. The result will be a conversational tone.
Albert Jose

If you’re writing something and you have to look up the definition of a word, you probably shouldn’t use it.
Scott Parker, data specialist, Beaumont, Texas

Read your work out loud to locate problems. If you run out of breath, the sentence is too long.
Robert Kanigel, writer and editor, Baltimore, Maryland

If you’re bored with your writing, others will be too.
Robert Kanigel, writer and editor, Baltimore, Maryland

Your essay should be like a woman’s skirt – long enough to cover the subject, but short enough to keep it interesting.

When writing, if you’re searching for a final sentence, you’ve probably already written it.
Cheryl A. Russell, demographer, mother, editor-in-chief, American Demographics

Always figure out who your characters are before you figure out your plot. You can follow a good character through a bad plot, but you can’t make a good plot out of a bad character.
James Erwin, Editor, Des Moines, IA, USA

Don’t make changes based on reader feedback until you’ve heard the same comment from three different people.
Percy Angress, special effects producer, Santa Monica, California

From Rules Of Thumb.org

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11 Responses

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  1. links for 2008-01-18 | Ed Tech Hacks said, on January 18, 2008 at 6:40 pm

    […] Rules of Thumb for Writing « // Internet Duct Tape (tags: writing lifehacks) […]

  2. joe said, on January 18, 2008 at 7:10 pm

    These are great.

  3. Michael Sync said, on January 18, 2008 at 8:42 pm

    that’s amazing and worth reading… thanks a lot.. buddy.

  4. toivo said, on January 19, 2008 at 10:28 am

    who the f is Albert Jose?

  5. cooper said, on January 19, 2008 at 1:04 pm

    Great piece, though I warn against over use of the semi colon, and I know as I was called “Queen of the Semi Colon” in college by more than one professor.

  6. zeroratio said, on January 20, 2008 at 1:29 pm

    Great post! I love how witty these writers are… strongly agree with the dictionary quote (although it may limit my vocab to high school level, haha)

  7. David Bradley said, on January 20, 2008 at 1:47 pm

    Interesting tips but be sure to follow the housestyle of the market. The tight lede you wrote and then deleted may be exactly what the editor needs for the publication.


  8. Sandy said, on January 21, 2008 at 8:11 pm

    Loved reading it. Raymond Schultz’s comment was the best one! :-)

  9. Rolling a blog joint « Cuzoogle said, on January 22, 2008 at 10:42 am

    […] Internet Duct Tape offers up the rules of thumb writing. […]

  10. […] Rules of Thumb for Writing « // Internet Duct Tape (tags: writing rules-of-thumb tips quotes) […]

  11. Columnesia said, on January 25, 2008 at 4:51 am

    Great quotes…
    Just continuing Raymond Schultz ones:

    If you are not sure if you should quit writing: write again.


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