i'm just a literary tease, my reputation's on its knees.

On Writing, For Blogs

October 12, 2004

I think the biggest difference between keeping a blog and keeping an online diary is probably a matter of editing. For me, an online diary is a place where my mind is free to spew whatever it wants to spew. I don't edit much with my online diary, just add some line breaks for better readability.

My blog, however, is a different story. Although I'd like to believe that my blog is a place where I can write anything I would like to write, the truth is more that while I am free to explore intellectual topics more in depth than I might on a personal diary, I must continually keep in mind that this forum is an educational one. Not only might my classmates read my words, so might my professors and future employers, not to mention any friends, family, or stalkers who might stumble across my page.

Therefore, I watch what I say, and I am more careful to edit my writing. I am not the type to belabor a word to death or rewrite a sentence three, four, or twenty times until I get it just right. I do, however, strive to catch the most glaring of my grammatical errors so as to not sound like too much of an idiot.

I found some useful grammar and web writing tips in Crawford Killian's Writing for the Web. Here are a few of my favorites:

Choose Concrete Anglo-Saxon Words

"If you are conversant in English, you have the incredible luck to speak and write a language that falls in love with every other language it meets. English will borrow words from other languages all over the world, and then forget to return them." - Killian

Killian defines words as having two distinct styles: Anglo-Saxon words are the common words more readily used in day-to-day life. Greco-Latin words are more hoity-toity scientific jargon type words. Killian advocates using Anglo-Saxon words because they are simpler and more immediate.

Avoid Cliches

"Avoid cliches like the plague. A cliche is a phrase or expression that was once so new and suprising that everyone repeated it. Like an unspoiled tourist destination ruined by too many tourists, the cliche loses its whole reason for existence when everyone uses it."

Killian recommends avoiding cliches. I have to adamantly agree with his stance on this one: Cliches suck! Basically, using a cliche means that you are too lazy to think of your own way to describe something. Don't get me wrong: I'm definitely guilty of the transgression myself. It's important as a writer to be conscious of cliches and to work like hell to eradicate them from your writing. Make up your own cliches, damnit! ;c)

Killian also offers some suggestions for editing web text. I'll offer an abbreviated version of his list here:

  1. Toss Your Spell Checker Out The Window - Don't depend on your word processor's spell checker for all your editing needs. You could easily miss a lot of important grammar points.
  2. Don't Be Wordy, Biznitch - Cut, cut, cut the fat out of your writing. Be a lean, mean writing machine. (And don't use cliches like that one!)
  3. Edit Yourself - Write first. Then edit
  4. Proofread the Print Version - It's much easier to catch mistakes from paper than from on the screen. Plus you won't be as likely to get a headache.
  5. Be Aware of Cultural Differences - Soda? Pop? Fizzy? make sure your audience knows what the heck you mean when you write a colloquialism.
Moira at 02:13 PM :: Comments (0) :: ::
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