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Writing


SoundEagle Writing

SoundEagle’s Writing Guidelines

1 Choose simple words or expressions over complicated or convoluted ones. Be concise. Be parsimonious in the number of words used to narrate a given situation. Words are like diamonds: when set properly they sparkle beautifully; when overused they become tawdry and boring. Consider each word as a cost: fewer words, less cost.

Desirable or Preferable

Convoluted or Unnecessary

to rank/grade them to grade/sort them by their relative importance/significance
an abrupt, large/voluminous torrent a sudden outbreak of a very large torrent with voluminous flow
reduce mechanical overload and failure enable reduction in mechanical overload and failure
starting a new activity launching out into a new field of activity
exploring the new knowledge journeying into the new sphere of knowledge
to persuade them more easily

to persuade them with greater ease

to increase their degree of ease of being persuaded

to increase the degree of ease of them being persuaded

to increase the degree of ease with which they can be persuaded

2 Avoid the repetitious use of specific words or phrases. As a rule, avoid repeating yourself within 10 to 12 pages of a manuscript if possible. If there is something that needs to be restated, be creative and find another way to express it.

3 Avoid using slang, patois, dialect, creole, pidgin, colloquialisms, ungramamtical structures or rendering language with incorrect spelling unless the style or context warrants the use.

Use with care

If it moves, shoot it; if it doesnโ€™t, chop it down. Itโ€™s so sick / cool / rad / wicked / rap / naff / uncool / twisted.
The result is as sure as eggs is eggs. It sure was a crime.
Thatโ€™s one helluva holy cow or golden goose. I getcha / gotcha / betcha.
Wait any longer and you may miss the boat. I wanna / gonna / gotta / hafta talk to you.
Thatโ€™ll be the day! How come she donโ€™t show up? Coz she donโ€™t care.
He couldnโ€™t fight his way out of a paper bag. I gunna buy lotsa things there. How โ€˜bout ya?
He could sell boomerangs to the blacks. She dunno, so lemme tell ya now for goodness sake!
Itโ€™s feeding time at the zoo. Watcha / Waddya / Haya doinโ€™?
I donโ€™t give a frig! I was flat out like a lizard drinking. You ainโ€™t got nothinโ€™ against tis fella. Doncha geddit?
What were you actually doing with those cornfed fruitcakes? You kinda / coulda / shoulda / woulda / mighta / musta told her the secret. Yeah, me too. No, I didnโ€™t. Me neither.
Give us a bloody chance to work it out or pull your bloody head in! He always done the other thing. Sโ€™pose he opened his mouth โ€” what then? If he didnโ€™t shut it up powerful quick, heโ€™d lose a lie, every time.
Howdy! Long time no see! Aiyah, cannot wait any more, must go oreddy.
How come today you never hand in homework? Better clean the room, otherwise you will kena.

4 Avoid using clichรฉs unless the style or context warrants the use.

Use with care

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush A matter of life and death
Back to the drawing board A stitch in time saves nine
Donkeyโ€™s years By hook or by crook
Donโ€™t count your chickens before theyโ€™re hatched Gather ye rosebuds while ye may
Food for thought Half a loaf is better than none
For all intents and purposes Here today and gone tomorrow
From the horseโ€™s mouth In one ear and out the other
In the final analysis I wouldnโ€™t touch it with a ten-foot pole
In any way, shape or form More here than meets the eyes
Keep your fingers crossed Much ado about nothing
Knee-high to a grasshopper Neither rhyme nor reason
Land of milk and honey Pay through the nose
Necessity is the mother of invention Pull out all the stops
Pull a rabbit out of the hat Thereโ€™s more than one way to skin a cat.
Thatโ€™s the way the ball bounces Thereโ€™s no defence like a good offence
You canโ€™t teach an old dog new tricks You canโ€™t have your cake and eat it
And they live hapilly ever after It was a dark and stormy night
All hell broke loose Once bitten twice shy

5 Use neutral language instead of discriminatory vocabularies or sexist labels.

Preferable

To be avoided

natives, aboriginals, indigenous people primitives, savages, uncivilised people
mentally disabled / challenged mentally retarded / stunted / inferior
the average person the man on the street
flight attendant steward / stewardess
bartender barman / barmaid
athlete, sportsperson, sports player sportsman
firefighter fireman
police officer policeman
chairperson chairman
mail carrier, letter carrier, post worker mailman
human hour, work hour man hour
human power, labour force/power manpower
human-made, created by humankind man-made, created by mankind

6 Avoid redundancy.

To be avoided

They are exactly identical. This is a new initiative.
The place is shrouded in quiet silence. It is even more faster than that.
It is without any doubt that the patient will die for sure. He was fatally murdered.
The situation can be deadly lethal. Please return the books back to the library.
Both events happened in the same time period. She is very much in agreement with her own self.
It happened in the month of July and in the year of 1998. Participation in this activity is exclusive to members only.
I went up three flights of stairs in order to go up to the massive lounge room. It is inevitability that the event will always occur sooner or later.
The chief drawback of the unit is that it lacks storage space, which means that the space available for storing things in the unit is limited. Mary: I shall always love you.

Henry: And I too shall always love you.

The villagers are very keen to preserve their tradition and way of life, and are therefore very reluctant to move forward with time. Peter: I did not take the liberty of taking a detour.

Simon: Neither did I take the liberty of taking a detour.

Tammy: Nor did I take the liberty of taking a detour.

The spirited party of five departed for the shops via a longer promenade and in the process they could able to better appreciate the scenic view on the way to the shops. What you can do for us is to get some books out of the cupboard and put them on the table for us to read over there. What you can then do is to go and choose one book that you like and start reading that book.

7 Ensure relevancy and consistency of technical information.

Domains or areas that may require or involve technical information

Descriptions or Instrumentations

Directions or Instructions

Protocols or Procedures

Methods or Methodologies

Jargons or Terminologies

Surveys or Enquiries

Analyses or Proofs

Glossaries

8 Be sure to use technical information that proves to the reader an intimate knowledge of a subject. Include references or citations where necessary or appropriate.

Examples of technical information

Whitmoreโ€™s outstanding performance was immediately hailed as the most piquant rendering of Scriabinโ€™s fifth piano sonata โ€” on account of his dynamic interpretation that emphasizes even more of the workโ€™s ground-breaking features that indeed set it apart from Scriabinโ€™s earlier sonatas.
People with full autism have a very strong need to always โ€œfeel at home in one situation or anotherโ€. Autism is a spectrum โ€œdisorderโ€ in which Asperger is known as a subset of autism.
As the image indicates, the ISEA model serves to map attributes of the four perspectives onto a two-dimensional field that functions as an axiological chart โ€” a heuristic cartography for investigating human-Nature relationships through the identification and visualisation of fundamental differentiations within and between the four perspectives. Relatedness is conveyed via spatial relations such that differences among attributes are reflected by where they are located with respect to each other in the ISEA model.
The perspectives polarized along both axes represent opposite ends of ideological or philosophical spectrums concerning human-Nature relationships. Briefly stated, the Instrumentalโ†”Spiritual axis distinguishes the perspective that values the natural world in means-end rationales and anthropocentric terms (the Instrumental perspective) on the one hand; and the perspective that attaches importance to deep empathy and identification with Nature (the Spiritual perspective) on the other.
The Pro-Environmentโ†”Pro-Animal/Plant axis distinguishes the perspective whose concerns about Nature take the form of an organismic or biocentric emphasis on the rights and welfare of nonhumans (the Pro-Animal/Plant Perspective) on the one hand; and the perspective whose concerns are informed by a more systemic or ecocentric understanding of an ecosphere/ecosystem and its internal interrelations (the Pro-Environment perspective).
If the concept requires that a situation (or) music be experienced aphoristically at a seaside, then that experience (even the mere thought of the situation) constitutes the musical product for which the concept provides a necessary foundation, instruction, catalyst, context, idea or starting point. The conceptual message itself, however indirectly connected to music in the conventional sense, supersedes any role or significance that may be attached to the sounds that one may feasibly encounter or generate in the situation.

9 Check spelling, grammar, logic, punctuations, abbreviations and acronyms.

Proper or Preferable

Problematic or Undesirable

They pray and repent into the night as if there were no tomorrow. They prey and repent into the knight like there is no tomorrow.

They prey and repent into the night like tomorrow is no more.

They have misunderstood and punished him even though he has been kind and wise beyond his years. They have misunderstood and punished him because he has been kind and wise beyond his years.

Since he has been kind and wise beyond his years, they have misunderstood and punished him.

These vegetables are not grown organically as are those found in certified grocery stores. These vegetables are not grown organically as they are in certified grocery stores.

These vegetables are not grown organic like you get in certified grocery stores.

These vegetables are not grown organically like those in certified grocery stores.

These vegetables are not (as) organic as they are in certified grocery stores.

I was badly bullied just as my sister was. I was badly bullied like my sister was badly bullied.

I was badly bullied just like my sister.

I was badly bullied in an identical way to my sister.

I was badly bullied like how my sister was.

Me and my sister were bullied bad.

My sister and I were badly bullied like each other.

I find that writing about myself is the toughest thing. Writing about myself is the toughest thing I find to do.
Peter asked โ€œWho is this?โ€ and Simon answered โ€œThis is I.โ€ Peter asked โ€œWho is this?โ€ and Simon answered โ€œThis is me.โ€
Peter uttered โ€œHe looks like I.โ€ and Simon added โ€œYou do look like he.โ€ Peter uttered โ€œHe looks like meโ€ and Simon added โ€œYou do look like him.โ€
The woman is a little taller than he (has ever been). The woman is a little taller than him.
If you were I, could / would you commit such deeds? If you are me, can / will you do such things?
There are many kinds of fruits, such as apples, oranges and lemons. There are many kinds of fruits, e.g. apples, oranges, lemons, etc.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) is planning to conduct a large-scale Socioeconomic and Population Survey (SPS) and to introduce several new Health Education Longitudinal Projects (HELPs) across a number of third-world countries. The main objectives of the WHO include ensuring that the SPS and HELPs run smoothly under different socio-political regimes and cultural expectations. The World Health Organisation is planning to conduct a large-scale Socioeconomic and Population Survey and to introduce several new Health Education Longitudinal Projects across a number of third-world countries. The main objectives of the W.H.O. include ensuring that the S.P.S. and H.E.L.P.s run smoothly under different socio-political regimes and cultural expectations.

10 Beware of common grammatical problems or pitfalls. โ€œBadโ€ English is not necessary or always one where the usage is different, informal or colloquial; it is, and can be, anything that reduces the quality, comprehensibility, clarity, logic and/or expressive strength of a manuscript.

Proper or Preferable

Improper or Less Preferable

Since (or As or Now that) the living standard of those people has been improved significantly by the advent of electricity, they begin to seek out better amenities and more sophisticated entertainments.

Those people begin to seek out better amenities and more sophisticated entertainments since their living standard has been improved significantly by the advent of electricity.

The living standard of those people has been improved significantly by the advent of electricity. As a result, they begin to seek out better amenities and more sophisticated entertainments.

With the living standard of those people being improved significantly by the advent of electricity, they begin to seek out better amenities and more sophisticated entertainments.

With significant improvement in the living standard of those people since the advent of electricity, they begin to seek out better amenities and more sophisticated entertainments.

Those people begin to seek out better amenities and more sophisticated entertainments, with their living standard being improved significantly by the advent of electricity.

Those people begin to seek out better amenities and more sophisticated entertainments due to their living standard being improved significantly by the advent of electricity.

Those people begin to seek out better amenities and more sophisticated entertainments, (with) their living standard having been improved significantly by the advent of electricity.

Owing to the increase in cars and buses, the air pollution has worsened.

With the increase in cars and buses comes the worsening air pollution.

As a result of the increase in cars and buses, the air pollution has worsened.

The increase in cars and buses has worsened the air pollution.

The air pollution has worsened because of the increase in cars and buses.

The increase in cars and buses has caused (or has resulted in) the worsening air pollution.

There has been an increase in cars and buses, causing worsening air pollution.

There has been an increase in cars and buses, causing air pollution to worsen.

Due to the increase in cars and buses, the air pollution has worsened.

With the increase in cars and buses, the air pollution has worsened.

With there being an increase in cars and buses, the air pollution has worsened.

With cars and buses increasing in numbers, the air pollution has worsened.

The increase in cars and buses means that the air pollution has worsened.

Cars and buses are on the increase, which means that the air pollution has worsened.

The increase in cars and buses tell/show us that the air pollution has worsened.

There has been an increase in cars and buses, an increase that has worsened the air pollution.

There has been an increase in cars and buses, an increase that has caused the air pollution to worsen.

He is the person to whom she looks up.

He is the person whom she looks up to.

He is the person to look up to.

He is the person she looks up to.

He is the person who she looks up to.

He is the person to whom to look up.

This was the moment that he waited a long time for.

This was the moment for which he waited a long time.

He waited a long time for this moment.

This was the moment he waited a long time for.

This was the moment which he waited a long time for.

He waited for this moment a long time.

The standard and frequency of performances there are much higher than those of the local region. In addition, the multipronged approach can help art event/festival organizers to raise local interest and participation in contemporary avant-garde music. The standard and frequency of performance there are much better than the local region. What’s more, the multiple ways of doing things can help art event/festival organizers raise local interest and participation in contemporary music that is way far out there.
That this magnificent historical building from the Renaissance period has survived when so many others have disappeared is difficult to explain. The reason for the continual existence of this magnificent historical building from the Renaissance period when so many others have disappeared is difficult to say for certain.
I am soon ready to get some books out of the cupboard and put them on the table for us to read. After that, please go and choose one that you like and start reading. What I am ready to do soon is get some books out from the cupboard and put them up the table for us to read. Please go choose the one you like and start to read it.
Since reading outside the house is no more difficult than it is inside, and since she enjoys Nature, she is increasingly fond of reading aloud in the courtyard. She has a particular liking for the works of Shakespeare. As usual she strolls to the courtyard this morning. Already waiting at a secluded spot, her brother feigns not to pay any attention to her wont but intends to annoy her in one or more clever ways, for he derives his satisfaction from playing an ingenious prank. He will only be satisfied when an impish, roguish act is done. Having successfully accomplished yet another โ€œmissionโ€ at his sisterโ€™s expense, he promptly retreats indoors to relive and savour the moments that he had just experienced outdoors, moments freshly engineered for his own amusement. Increasingly confident, he resolves to realise such a plan at least twice a week, should this be within his power.

{zero occurrence of โ€œwithโ€ and 150 words in total}

With reading outside the house being no more difficult than inside, she is increasingly fond of reading aloud in the courtyard with a particular liking for the works of Shakespeare. As usual with her, she strolls to the courtyard this morning. As with her brother who is already waiting at a secluded spot, he pays no attention to her wont, but with an intention to annoy her with one or more devious ways. Satisfaction to him will only be achieved with an ingenious prank. He will only be satisfied with committing an impish, devilish act. With yet another โ€œmissionโ€ being completed successfully at his sisterโ€™s expense, he promptly retreats indoors with the sole purpose of reliving and enjoying in his mind the favourite times of what happens outside earlier, which he has recently engineered for his own amusement. With his confidence increasing, he resolves himself to make this happens with a frequency of at least twice a week, by hook or by crook.

{12 occurrences of โ€œwithโ€ and 163 words in total}

15 Grammar Goofs That Make You Look Silly
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For more information on writing, visit Elmore Leonardโ€™s Ten Rules For Writing.

27 comments on “Writing

  1. Good advice is worth a lot….

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  2. Interesting read… just editing my next novel so it’s very pertinent advice!

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  3. That’s an interesting list. Can I add something to that?

    One thing that I guess is also one of the most common issues inflicting the writing of novice writers, including me, is the use of pronouns. Often we write a sentence like this, “The woman is a little older than him”.

    Using ‘Him’ here is not grammatically correct, because ‘him’ is an object-pronoun. An object-pronoun does not appear in a sentence unless it receives an action, hence the correct sentence would be ‘The woman is a little older than he’.

    Sorry, just my two cents.

    Subhan Zein

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    • That’s a good observation there, Subhan. Could you kindly ascertain that from some reliable source(s) dealing with grammar?

      On a similar note, SoundEagle wonders which pronoun to use in the following cases: “Mary knows who(m) the culprit is.” and “Mary knows who(m) has stolen the thunder egg.”

      Which would you use, the subjective (nominative) form “who” or the objective (oblique) form “whom”?

      Like

      • On second thought, SoundEagle believes that “who” is more appropriate in both cases, because the “who” is an interrogative pronoun used to make those indirect questions.

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      • Oh, I read it somewhere in a book entitled, ‘A Student’s Introduction to English Grammar’ by Huddleston and Pullum when I was doing my master’s here in Canberra. The book was published by Cambridge University Press in 2005.

        On the contrary, when I was doing my bachelor, I asked my lecturers the same case in a different sentence and they did not consider it a grammatical error. For them, both forms are acceptable.

        I suppose what’s written in Huddleston and Pullum is pretty much new, and quite stylistic, for some English users. But then if you could find the use of subject pronoun, instead of object pronoun, in a comparative sentence like that in best-selling books such as “The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini and “The Age of Reason” by Jean-Paul Sartre and the fact that the books are published by prominent publishers like Random House and Penguin, I guess that’s pretty much reliable and accurate.

        “Whom” or “Who”, I would use “Who”. We’re on the same page.

        Subhan Zein

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  4. Sorry, there was a typo-here’s the edited version:

    Oh, I read it somewhere in a book entitled, โ€˜A Studentโ€™s Introduction to English Grammarโ€™ by Huddleston and Pullum when I was doing my masterโ€™s here in Canberra. The book was published by Cambridge University Press in 2005.

    On the contrary, when I was doing my bachelor, I asked my lecturers the same case in a different sentence and they did not consider it a grammatical error. For them, both forms are acceptable.

    I suppose whatโ€™s written in Huddleston and Pullum is pretty much new, and quite stylistic, for some English users. But then if you could find the use of subject pronoun, instead of object pronoun, in a comparative sentence like that in best-selling books such as โ€œThe Kite Runnerโ€ by Khaled Hosseini and โ€œThe Age of Reasonโ€ by Jean-Paul Sartre and the fact that the books are published by prominent publishers like Random House and Penguin, I guess thatโ€™s pretty much reliable and accurate.

    โ€œWhomโ€ or โ€œWhoโ€? I would use โ€œWhomโ€. Weโ€™re on the same page.

    Subhan Zein

    Like

    • Great! Indeed, we are on the same page, and SoundEagle would like to conclude that “who” rather than “whom” is more appropriate in โ€œMary knows who the culprit isโ€ and โ€œMary knows who has stolen the thunder eggโ€, as far as SoundEagle can determine.
      Regarding your earlier example “โ€˜The woman is a little older than heโ€™, SoundEagle has seen the same example in the form “The woman is a little older than he is.” Surely, the same sentence would sound rather weird as “The woman is a little older than him is.” So, this provides another way for determining whether the subject-pronoun or object-pronoun is more appropriate. Do you agree?

      Another example: Consider the question “Who is this?” and compare the answer “This is I” (which is traditionally correct) with “This is me” (in normal or informal usage).

      SoundEagle has incorporated the results of our discussions in Writing Guideline number 9 above, using the following examples:

      • The woman is a little taller than he (has ever been).
      • Peter asked โ€œWho is this?โ€ and Simon answered โ€œThis is I.โ€

      Like

    • SoundEagle is pleasantly surprise by your mentioning the existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre, who was the rival of the structuralist anthropologist Claude Lรฉvi-Strauss.

      Like

  5. Good advice, SoundEagle. Many writers fall into the trap of more is better, or the use of highfalutin words when simple is best. And so onโ€ฆ

    Blessings to you ~ maxi

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  6. How do the high scores on the game work?
    I may be back to check whether you have any clichรฉs I haven’t collected yet.๐Ÿ™‚ Sue

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  7. I have duly noted your recipe for executing the queens language . However we live here in the land of oz , down under . I reccomend u listen to Victor Borge on his use of numbers ie before becomes befive – very entertaining & I do believe that he was way before his time & my grandmother loved his musical prowess in that he would begin playing one piece & change to another without notice ( lost on me as I wasn’t a pianist like her ) . I have always loved language & enjoy making it versatile . I also embrace the Australian language , that is a colloquial form of the queens English – it’s debateable whether it’s proper or not & given our heritage of being convict stock I feel rather acceptable . Within this large continent the colloquial lingo changes & I have noticed a tendancy of the further north u go the shorter the abbreviation ie I beg your pardon becomes just beggers in NT ( Northern Territories ) – I site the reason as the obscene temperatures ! I do acknowledge that there is always a time & place . Coming across the ditch at the age of 20 was a bit of a shock & working in an office in Parramatta I was often asked “what part of the UK do you come from? ” I was also a victim of racism & quickly learnt to embrace the language & assimilate as well as I could . I learnt to love the larrikin ways of the Aussies and their challenge of shortening anything they could – my attempt is – I drive a rolla ( short for corolla ) . Australia is a love of mine ( I am a duel citizen ) & easily my favourite country if I had to choose .My advice is try it & u may find it a joy as I do .As Dr Suess said “Would you like green eggs and ham ?” Xxx

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    • Alison, thank you for sharing your perspectives and linguistic background here. Once again, SoundEagle would like to ask you to repeat your reading of the contents of this webpage so that you could avoid making erroneous assumptions and conclusions regarding the nature and contents of SoundEagle‘s writing and communication with you and others.

      Firstly, had you been more careful and understanding, you would have realized that SoundEagle has never insisted that the Queen’s English, or indeed, any other flavour or vernacular of English be used exclusively without any concession or context.

      Secondly, it is quite observable here that you are fairly steep in the colonial-convict-outback mythology and Australiana, being rather misguided that there has been a unified, fair-dinkum, free-wheeling, unapologetic, fairly uniform, instantly recognizable kind of English language in Australia, which has been rendered even more problematic by popular representations in the mass media, and by your lack of understanding and awareness of the works of sociologists, anthropologists, historians, linguists and sociolinguists. The (reality of the) English language in Australia and its changes and evolution have been far more variegated than you realise.

      Thirdly, your written (and spoken) English is far from unadulteratedly Australian, and has been significantly influenced (and “contaminated”) by the American English in various ways and through different media, to say the least.

      Fourthly, it would be prudent to refrain from confusing and/or justifying bad grammar (and spelling) with abbreviations, contractions, lingos, texting, colloquialism and so on.

      Like

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