My Notebook: Words & Writing

Good writing: 60 per cent thinking, 40 per cent writing

The instructor of a writing course I took a few years ago introduced it by noting that 60 per cent of writing was thinking. Sometimes I forget this advice and start a project without thinking. I plunge into the writing, bang out a paragraph or two and come to a halt — lost. It’s as if I have started on a long road trip without a map or without my GPS set to my destination. There are three key points to think about before you start writing:
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20 tricky words: Change one letter & you change the meaning

There are many words in the English language that sound alike but by changing one letter they take on a different meaning.  That’s usually not a problem when you’re speaking, but it can really trip you up in written language — and spell check won’t help you. Here are 20 commonly misused/misspelled words.
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Want to sound smart? Use little words.

When I was a kid growing up in New Zealand, I had two favourite words:  antidisestablishmentarianism and Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu. 
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The secrets of good writing: Editing and proofreading

“The secret of good writing,” says William Zinsser* author of On Writing Well: An Informal Guide to Writing Nonfiction, “is to strip every sentence to its cleanest components.” This means getting rid of every word that serves no function but only weakens your sentence.
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