Rhetorical devices revisited

Have you ever thought that the word oxymoron itself becomes a great oxymoron if you just add the letter f to the beginning of the word? Not sure what an oxymoron is? We’ll check it out further down. Earlier this year, I read a book on the magic of rhetorical devices and the value they […]

The magic of rhetorical devices

When I was in school, I learned about figures of speech. I seem to remember being introduced to seven—or was it eight—figures of speech: simile, metaphor, personification, hyperbole, understatement… Oh dear. For the most part, we got the idea. It seemed metaphor differed from simile only in the use of the word like. Hyperbole and […]

Charming words: even if they are “foreign”

I love writing, but I dislike bombastic. My readers’ focus should be what I am saying and how well I am saying it, but they shouldn’t be consulting Merriam-Webster or Oxford to confirm that I am writing English. That doesn’t mean a writer eschews all words that may have some readers scrambling for their dictionaries. […]

Enriching language

Though my father seeded my English, he tended to use language—early-to-middle twentieth century British English—that by today’s tastes was as excruciating as a giraffe in a neck brace. The polishing was done by three geniuses who nursed me—and a few hundred others over the decades—through the complexities of English language and literature in school. All […]

Writing tips and things

Some writing tips for authors make you want to rebel. No matter what the vocabulary gatekeepers say, there is sweetness in using words that you and a major part of the rest of the world grew up with—using them the natural way, aberrations and all. Word wisdom I thought about this recently while editing a […]

Novel writing down the years

Do authors of a given generation tend to be analogous in their novel writing styles? To put it differently, are authors more influenced by the writing styles of their contemporaries than by those of authors past? Those two questions give rise to an ancillary one: are today’s authors also influenced by a “keep it short, […]

All about writing hohum

Are you writing real? I mean, humdrum real? I know, most of the conscious authors—at least, those who don’t do “unreal”, like fantasy—try hard to keep their characters, settings and dialogs real. But humdrum real? The maid Janet quits because her jealous mistress makes nasty, for the nth time. She collects her wages and is […]

Punctuation rules, rocks

If this post about punctuation rules puts you in a comma, please accept my apologies (they are valid for the misspelling, too). I must be having a lean period. I don’t like writing about spelling, grammar, punctuation and other issues that are a necessary pain in the colon for authors. I figure that there are […]

Not so concise writing: OK?

I (can always) hope you read my recent post about concise writing. I thought I would add some qualifiers to my own post. In school, the Jesuits taught me that the best writing is bare-bone writing. If you can say something in 12 words, don’t go for 13. Preferably, strip it down to 11. Students […]

Spelling and pronunciation

Why doesn’t formal language education in schools include classes on both spelling and pronunciation? You would have thought the subject weighty enough to deserve a few scheduled periods. Take English. Even the best of wordsmiths in that language fumble when it comes to pronunciation of some words. I suppose it is because the language derives […]