Writing Tips

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Your Honor, You Are Stupid, You Suck, and Please Decide for Me

Many of you are lawyers; many of you hire lawyers. Lawyers are nice people—stay with me. One thing I love most about lawyers is that they work hard to be good at what they do (it’s not an easy way to make a living). But put them in a suit, hand them a briefcase, and say, "Go represent this guy," and they change personalities. It's like somebody performed a lobotomy and out with the frontal lobe went common sense. They start writing stuff like, "The Appellee brazenly claims . . . ." "Incredibly, the Appellee contends . . . ." "It is lame, circular reasoning for the Appellee to argue . . . ." "With amazing chutzpah and inexcusable gall, the Appellee suggests . . . ." Ironically, the lawyer who wrote those sentences was "the nicest litigator I've ever had a case against," according to opposing counsel. "Only when we got in front of the judge or wrote something for the judge to read, did he act like this." Put them in a suit, hand them a briefcase, and say, "Go represent this guy," and lawyers . . . .

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Emenem (Part I of III - The Em Dash)

With terrorists, disease, and weird weather threatening life on Earth as we know it, it seemed like a good time to talk about em dashes. If we all start using them properly, perhaps we can shift the earth's axis just enough that the asteroid hits Adak instead of Birmingham.

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And Now, the Oscar for Best Supporting Honey Wagon Driver

Long after the movie ends and everyone else has left the theatre, I sit in the dark watching the credits, mesmerized by the thousands of people it takes to make a movie: the loaders, the gaffers, the grips, the best boys. The Pre-Dubbers and Print Mixers, the Boom Operators and Stunt Team, the Foley Artists and Second Unit Wardrobe Production Assistants. The Transportation Captain and the Parking Coordinator. The Second Second Assistant to the Backup Accountant for Food Services in Charge of Estimating the Value of Edible Food Composted at the End of Each Day for Tax Reasons. But my all-time, all-time favorites are the Honey Wagon Drivers. (Yes, there is such a credit.) If you promise not to tell, it’s a great way for aspiring directors to get the inside scoop. So to speak.

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Gone with the Email (Act IV of IV)

To conclude this four-part series about writing emails, we begin at the end.

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Two Furcates and Half a Nary

A prince was about to purchase a castle high on a rocky promontory, the perfect place to defend against marauding Visigoths. His princess loved the place because of the stunning view and the intriguing array of torture devices displayed in the dungeon. As the prince was about to sign the contract to purchase, he noticed the term bimonthly payments. Wait! Hold everything! What does that mean?

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Close Encounters of the Email Kind (Act III of IV)

For the third week we are examining the necessary evil of email, and the wariness with which we must approach this oh-so-informal medium when we use it to conduct our oh-so-important business. Last week we discussed what to put in the four lines of the header. Now we’re looking at the “Whens of Email.”

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A Hacksaw to the Ear

It all happens so fast. If you remember, we ended last week with everything suspended:  Criss  on the side of the Chrysler Building, David upside down, handcuffed in a shark tank. But the crowd has now turned back to me, wide-eyed and slack-jawed, to hear the rest of my story on how to write numbers.

 

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Guess Who's Coming to Email (Act II of IV)

Last week we talked about the no-man’s land of email, that weird space between writing and speaking researchers call “chatting.” Problems arise when the loose rules of “chatting” clash with the important content of the email.

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Hanging with Criss and David

The other day, I was hanging out with Criss Angel and David Blaine, walking across pools and through plate glass windows, all that typical stuff. While Criss set himself on fire and David hung from a crane in a block of ice, I wowed the crowd with this amazing trick where I make useless words disappear right in front of their eyes: no hands, no props, just a WordRake button. Pure magic. The crowd burst into applause, stunned.

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The Good, the Bad, and the Email (Act I of IV)

(With summer upon us, this seemed like a good time to revisit the method of communication that nearly put the U. S. Postal Service out of business. Just between the two of us, I miss the old days, arriving at the mailbox one minute late, the taste of glue on my tongue. I know you do, too. Those were good times. After much thought, however, I have decided that email might be around for a while, so we should make peace with it and figure out how to use it effectively. In that spirit, today and for the next three weeks, we will explore the art and science of email.)

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About Gary Kinder

Gary Kinder

WordRake founder Gary Kinder has taught over 1,000 writing programs for AMLAW 100 firms, Fortune 500 companies, and government agencies. He’s also a New York Times bestselling author. As a writing expert and coach, Gary was inspired to create WordRake when he noticed a pattern in writing errors that he thought he could address with technology.

In 2012, Gary and his team of engineers created WordRake editing software to help writers produce clear, concise, and effective prose. It saves time and gives confidence. Writing and editing has never been easier.

WordRake takes you beyond the merely grammatical to the truly great—the quality editor you’ve always wanted. See for yourself.

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How Does it Work?

WordRake is editing software designed by writing expert and New York Times bestselling author Gary Kinder. Like an editor or helpful colleague, WordRake ripples through your document checking for needless words and cumbersome phrases. Its complex algorithms find and improve weak lead-ins, confusing language, and high-level grammar and usage slips.

WordRake runs in Microsoft Word and Outlook, and its suggestions appear in the familiar track-changes style. If you’ve used track changes, you already know how to use WordRake. There’s nothing to learn and nothing to interpret. Editing for clarity and brevity has never been easier.