Sunday, February 5, 2012

Eleven Writing Rules for Bloggers

Rules are made to be broken and are too often for the lazy to hide behind.

Douglas MacArthur (1880-1964)

Break any of the rules rather than say anything outright barbarous.

George Orwell (1903-1950)

February 5, 2012 – We bloggers are so new to the writing scene that we have yet to develop a set of rules. This blog fills the void.

What follows are a set of rules I have borrowed and modified from Elmore Leonard (born 1925), American novelist and screenwriter. Among his many works, Leonard wrote “Get Shorty.” “Get shorter” might be a fitting title for this set of blogging rules.

Who am I to set forth these rules? Nobody, but somebody who has been there and done that. Over the last 5 years and 3 months, I have written 2137 blogs at the rate of about 1 a day.

My blogs, on health reform and innovation, average 600 words. A quote or two precedes them. A tweet ends them. My blogs have a limited audience, but this may soon change. A company has asked to syndicate my blogs for a wider audience in the financial, political, business, and media worlds.

Here, for you edification, are 11 rules for writing. Elmore Leonard created them on July 16, 2001 New York Times in an essay “Easy on the Adverbs, Exclamation Points, and Hooptedoodle.”

For the uninformed among you, Leonard defined “hooptedoodle” as “inflammation of a story covered by infectious or toxic writing that gets in the way of a story making progress.”

1. Never open a book with weather ( Instead I prefer to open with familiar quotations since there is nothing new under the sun).

2. Avoid prologues (Instead get to the meat of the matter by spring boarding from an event of the day).

3. Never use a verb other than “said” to carry dialogue ( Instead always use "said" when quoting someone).

4. Never use an adverb to modify the word “said’ (Enough said).

5. Keep your exclamation points under control (Your blog should be exciting enough without resorting to exclamation points).

6. Never use the words “suddenly” or “all hell broke loose” ( Nothing is worse than sudden outbursts).

7. Use regional dialects, patois, sparingly (English is hard enough to use sparingly).

8. Avoid detailed descriptions of characters (But give them a proper title to place in context in the health care hierarchy).

9. Don’t go into detail describing places and things (Don’t litter your blog with details: simplify, simplify).

10. Try to leave out the part readers tend to skip (This includes opinionating and editorializing).

11. Skip the hooptedoogling ( Stay invisible: Rewrite anything that sounds like writing).

Tweet: Ignore pettifogging blogging rules: Instead seek brevity with a touch of levity.

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