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Don't press send ... The new rules for good writing in the 21st century

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https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/oct/07/dont-press-send-new-rules-good-writing-sam-leith

theguardian.com

Don't press send ... The new rules for good writing in the 21st century
The person who gets your letter will seldom be the one who wronged you. At least to start with, they have no skin in the game and may even be sympathetic. That evaporates when you start slinging around insults. It makes you feel good to bluster and rage: but it's how the recipient of the letter feels that will matter.

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Letters Of Complaint

Be polite. The person who gets your letter will seldom be the one who wronged you. And is unlikely to pass it on to the desired recipient if you are insulting and raging.

Make plain...

303 SAVES


Letters To Friends

Always remember that your job, writing to a friend, is to entertain. That can mean revelling in the odd pratfall. So, don’t just write about the mundane and pleasant things, try to give t...

268 SAVES


Letters Of Condolence

  • You are extending respect and friendship. Write quickly, and preferably by hand.
  • You’ll want to calibrate what you write to your relationship both with the recipient and with the decea...

258 SAVES


Love Letters

The love letter is about attention. You’re being your best self – most alive to the world, most engaged with the other – so that the attention you’re paying to them becomes a fantastic complimen...

262 SAVES


Writing For Digital

  • Keep up to date as language changes fast on the Internet.
  • Digital writing is about getting and retaining attention as different digital information sources are constantly vying to cap...

264 SAVES


Email

  • Take a moment to consider how your email will be received and if your tone and style are appropriate to the receiver and the situation.
  • Emailing strangers asks for the same level of fo...

273 SAVES


Social Media

Social Media
  • Tone often fails to travel online. Irony, self-mockery or dark humor can easily be parsed as bigotry for example.
  • You have multiple potential audiences, some will not be sympathetic. E...

272 SAVES


Speak To Your Audience

Forget what you know and want. Everything, from the shape of your argument to the choice of vocabulary, should be governed by your audience’s receptivity.

The key principle of persuasi...

274 SAVES


Be Clear

Plain English (the simplest word that does the job; straightforward sentences; nice active verbs etc) is far from the only style you should have at your command. But the plainer the language, th...

266 SAVES


Be Correct

Language changes according to usage and there’s no referee or court of appeal. With some nonstandard usages increasing the expressive range of the language and its precision.

All that being s...

238 SAVES


Simple Sentences

English audiences prefer short sentences and a subject-verb-object order.

Avoid a huge series of modifying clauses and parenthesis before you reach the subject of the sentence

267 SAVES


Read It Aloud

Most of what gets described as “good writing” is so described because – one way or another – it sounds right. It flows and slows when it should, the stresses fall naturally on the words that the wr...

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