Some words on writing . . .
A friend asked for advice on writing nonfiction prose, so I replied with a few flexible rules of thumb I've picked up or formulated over the years:
- remember your readerI have other little rules like this, all of them relevant to style and none of them applied rigidly, and I keep them in mind as I write. Perhaps readers could add their own rules?
- keep your point in mind
- simplify the point
- be concise
- use active voice if possible
- use "it" sparingly
- use "of" sparingly
- use forms of "be" sparingly
- avoid jargon
- avoid clichés
- choose concrete words over abstract
- put words, phrases, and clauses close to their referents
- restructure sentences to avoid commas
- restructure sentences to avoid esoteric punctuation (i.e., semicolons, colons, dashes, parentheses)