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Sun Valley Serenade

After dinner in town, I returned late to the home on the lake. The other authors had been there for a good while. When I walked in, a nice woman asked if I would like a glass of white wine. I said, “Yes, I would like that.” She brought it to me, extended the glass, and as I reached for it, she pulled it back. “First,” she said, “you must sing.”

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L.A. and Confidential

If any CHP patrolman or Starbucks barista wrote this scene in a screenplay (everybody in California from San Luis Obispo to the Mexico border is writing a screenplay), even the 19-year-old Paramount Studios summer intern would groan at the desperate ploy for a laugh. It’s funny only if it’s truly accidental and innocent, as it was. And if you hear the story on a Saturday afternoon while wine tasting with a few friends in Sideways country east of Santa Barbara, as I did, you will snort the Pinot out your nostrils, as I also did. Although Nabokov once said there’s no such thing as a “true story,” this is a true story.

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Green Cherries in the Fruitcake

 

I have discovered why nobody in Congress wants to compromise: incest. If you don’t want to think beyond your own closed mind, you won’t want someone else’s ideas in there mucking things up. So that makes fertile ground for incestuous ideas--ideas that have affairs with other closely-related ideas--narrowing one’s perspective, until all the ideas in your head are first cousins.

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Eeyore Halfheartedly Hung His Tail

Many of you know about the exciting life I lead here in a cabin in the woods, surrounded by deer, raccoons, coyotes, rabbits (that tantalize the coyotes), and all sorts of words (that tantalize me). My life is so exciting, I can spend hours entranced by the word that. Talk about a good time. But that is not a simple word; it is a mystical word. It lurks in about half of our sentences, changing chameleonlike from conjunction, to pronoun, to adjective. (We’re not even talking about the difference between that and which in a relative clause (See Tip: “The Million-Dollar Comma”); that's a different story.) That might be the most interesting word in the English language. I just made up this sentence with seven thats in a row, and the sentence is grammatically correct:

 

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Alice in Law-Law-Land

The lawyers will understand. “Yeah, that’s pretty much where I live.” But I want to take the rest of you deep inside the world of law, where words get minced, teeth get gnashed, and Alice gets invoked. A world, where, if you don’t like the definition of a word, you just make up your own.

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Flaubert's Pickles

I love the English language. So many words, so much nuance. We live in a lush vineyard of vocabulary. We stroll through, squeezing ripe, plump words, pondering. Carefully, we pick them and blend them into fine sentences that grow richer with age, deep and full-bodied or crisp and fruity, abounding with their own cherry and tobacco, pineapple and chocolate, blackberry and coffee, some with a peppery finish. Often the difference between words is so subtle, we’re not even sure there is one. Like a hint at the end: is that a soupçon of apricot or peach?

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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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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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No Joke

I owe everyone a huge apology. Two weeks ago, I told you about the summer I learned to type. I included this sentence in the original: “I could bang out 17 words a minute with no more that six or seven mistakes.” Mindy, who sends the Tips to you, thought I did it on purpose because the typo appeared in a sentence about making typos. And because she knows I have a weakness for irony, hidden jokes, and generally stupid, tongue-in-cheek stuff, she thought, "How deliciously ironic." Although still ironic, that was a real typo, but I thought, "What a great idea!" Then I thought, Even better, instead of that-which-should-be-than, let's make it sex-which-should-be-six. That way, nobody will miss the joke. HaHA!

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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.