Behold the power of the outline

At a chamber fellowship meeting, I was once asked to share my top editing tip. Didn’t have to think long about it: outline. I resisted outlining for many years, because it reeked of term papers and therefore seemed uncreative. Randy Ingermanson’s Snowflake Pro software convinced me otherwise. Designed for novel-writing, …

When passive voice is permissible

Writers and editors often pass on things they’ve learned—usually at the knee of some mentor they highly respect—in the form of seemingly inviolable rules: As it was said to me, I say to you, Thou shalt not use the passive voice. I am not saying “you have to know the …

English is hard. I’m here to help.

English is a beautiful but complex language. Because it borrows words from pretty much every other language on the planet, it has a massive vocabulary. Syntax can be intricate. Word formation is often illogical; for example, flammable and inflammable both mean “easy to burn.” Rules for punctuation are almost inscrutable. …

New year, new beginnings

I’ve never been one for new year’s resolutions. If a change is going to be made, one might as well make it now as wait for some arbitrary date on the calendar. But it just happens that this change — redesigning my website — has been in the planning stages …

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