William Zinsser: On Writing Well

Journalist and writing teacher William Zinsser says in his book, On Writing Well: “I’m occasionally asked if I can recall a moment when I knew I wanted to be a writer. No such blinding flash occurred. I only knew that I thought I would like to work for a newspaper.”

Zinsser, who was born on this day 92 years ago, on October 7, 1922, got his wish. He worked for the newspaper of his dreams – the New York Herald Tribune – before teaching writing at Yale, at the New School and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. His book, On Writing Well, is a classic guide for non-fiction writing. First published in 1976, it’s still relevant today. [Read more…]

Mourning the death of a computer

Do you remember when the Straits Times ceased to be free online? Almost 10 years ago. Now almost every major newspaper charges for access, but the Straits Times was one of the first. Putting up paywalls when I could surf almost every site for free – on a computer which still sits on a desk at home, idle, unattended.

A post from the blog, mrbrown
A post from the blog, mrbrown

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What’s up, and why, on Facebook and Twitter

The Straits Times coverage of social media on Saturday ignored a fundamental difference between Facebook and Twitter. Twitter you can use, like Google, to search for information. Facebook, not quite.

Let me give an example. Jeremy Au Yong, the Straits Times US Bureau chief, wrote about a police officer gunning down 19-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, which triggered an avalanche of tweets but hardly seemed to register on Facebook. I could still find some of the old tweets yesterday, almost a month after the incident, using the hashtag #Ferguson. Here are a couple of tweets posted the day after the shooting on August 9. [Read more…]

Writing tips from the master, Steven Pinker

Steven Pinker
Steven Pinker

Bloomberg’s reporters are not allowed to start a sentence with a “but”.

“Clauses that start with although, but, despite or however often confuse more than clarify, because the words connect dissimilar ideas in a single sentence,” writes Bloomberg’s editor-in-chief  Matthew Winkler in his style book, The Bloomberg Way.

Instead, his solution is to break up the sentences into shorter ones, reports Business Insider.

But, according to Steven Pinker…

But there’s nothing wrong in beginning a sentence with a “but”. So says Steven Pinker, the eminent psychologist and one of the foremost writers on language. [Read more…]