Parrot Skewers at Vilcabamba

Throughout history, whole societies almost overnight have gone the way of the dodo. For example, history records that the Pizarro brothers took down 10 million Inca with 168 men (plus confusing pale skin, a few blunderbusses, and a dollop of smallpox). But a little-known fact is that earlier in the 16th century, Inca society already had weakened internally, as whole segments of the population, from Machu Picchu to Vilcabamba, could not decide if they needed commas in the following sentence:

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A Melody for the Eyes

When we refer to someone as a “born writer,” we mean this person has an ear tuned to the sound words make on paper, an innate ability to turn syntax into a melody for the eyes. If that innate ability were an orchestra, the string section would be parallel construction.

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Avoid these words and phrases in a letter of recommendation

A quick Internet search will tell you what to put in a letter of recommendation; but it is just as important to know what to leave out. Using certain words, phrases, and information might cause your reader not to admit your student or hire your former employee. These are the most important to avoid:

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No Word Left Behind

With WordRake's fifth anniversary just passed, and the school year just begun, WordRake announces today one of the greatest breakthroughs in the annals of formal education. As of last midnight, WordRake has helped professionals remove 1,994,958,346,719 useless words, which we have collected and saved. As we pass the two-trillion mark today, we will now reverse the WordRake engine and redistribute all of those useless words to those who need them most: The American Student.

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Sasquatch on Noah's Ark

You're on "Coast-to-Coast" with George Noory, and for one hour you’ve debated George’s other guest, who is an expert on where Noah’s Ark landed on Mount Ararat. He has scripture and physical proof, and never mind that the proof has long been identified as wood splinters from a railroad tie in Long Beach.

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Low-Flying "Ls"

From deep in my soul, I apologize for writing this Tip. So many of you have asked me about this, however, it begs for comment, and I have a weakness for the inane. But this is the lamest, least important writing Tip I have ever written, or will ever write. It’s not even a “writing” Tip; it’s a “typing” Tip.

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Back to School with Her and I

After much pondering and many long discussions with my wife, I have decided to run for President of the United States. To prepare for a long and arduous campaign, I have been practicing making the victory sign with both hands at the same time.

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The Modality of Lady Gaga

The Dalai Lama told me  to embrace my enemies, to be thankful for them, because only my enemies could bring me challenge, and without challenge, I would never achieve Enlightenment. So I welcomed into my life all manner of obnoxious persons who disagree with me from my porkpie down to my saddle shoes. I feel much better now and have only one stop left on the road to Enlightenment.

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Emenem (Part III of III – The Hyphen)

If you have been sane far too long, and you miss the old days of total insanity, ponder why the Oxford American Dictionary would approve this sentence:

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Emenem (Part II of III – The En Dash)

As you know, all grammarians are sadists. You can spot them in elementary school, boiling live frogs. When they reach maturity and start looking for a career, they naturally gravitate toward grammar. No longer satisfied with tying M-80s to the tails of stray cats, they grow up to inflict pain on the rest of us by creating dogma and waiting in the bushes for the rest of us to come along and step in it.

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About Gary Kinder

Gary Kinder
Gary Kinder has taught over 1,000 writing programs for the American Bar Association, the Social Security Administration, PG&E, Kraft, Microsoft, and law firms like Jones Day, Sidley, and WilmerHale. His critically-acclaimed Ship of Gold in the Deep Blue Sea hit #7 on the New York Times Bestsellers List.

In 2012, Gary and his team of engineers created WordRake editing software to provide writers a full-time, reliable editor; to save them time and money; and to give them the confidence their writing is as clear and concise as they can make it. The U.S. Patent & Trademark Office has awarded nine patents to WordRake's unique technology, and Harvard Law School has recognized WordRake as "Disruptive Innovation."