Control Your Sentences

By Matt Thompson

Mundane Nuts & Bolts Tips for Controlling Sentences by Mark Kramer:

  • Virtually ban "to be" in all its forms. Mark Kramer: "'Is-ness' is the donkey by which meaning is conveyed in saddlebags."
  • Mark Kramer grants you a crate loaded with full stops. There are literally trillions of periods in there. When they run out, he says, e-mail for more.
  • Get rid of abstract verbs like "presents" or "suggests." One you get strong verbs in your sentences, your style will take care of itself.
  • Go down low on the ladder of abstraction -- not "creature," not "cow," but "Old Bossy."
  • No clichés: Kramer's convinced that nothing is whiter than snow.
  • Give up the words "when" and "as." Transform simultaneity into action, unless simultaneity is the purpose.

Matt Thompson is a reporter for Poynter Online.

Posted in sessions.Raising Your Voice, speakers.Mark Kramer, speakers.Susan Orlean, style, voice on December 12, 2003 at 05:14 PM | Permalink