Writing Tips

Our best writing tip? Edit for clarity and brevity with WordRake. It’s an automated in-line editor that checks for needless words, cumbersome phrases, clichés, and more.

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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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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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Houston, No Problem

Every time NASA calls, it’s the same: The angst, the hand wringing, the terrible indecision, the leaving behind, the goodbyes. That well-worn black satchel sits in my office ready at a moment’s notice to go anywhere in the world. Or out of it: 30 minutes to race to the landing field to board the helicopter to take me to the airport to catch the plane to fly me to Orlando to jump in the limousine to drive me to Cape Canaveral to launch my hide into outer space. Once I get to the Cape, I’m fine. Waiting atop a rocket that rises from beach sand and points into a blue sky, I'm looking forward to eating all that Spam and Tang for free. But I have to travel light: A toothbrush, a change of underwear, and 35 words.

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Barbra and the Woolly Mammoth

I’m sure many of you read about the archaeological find along a windswept slope of peat and heather on Scotland’s Isle of Skye: the jawbone and tusk of a woolly mammoth dating from the mid-Pleistocene, which places it tens of thousands of years before the Sumerians chiseled the tale of Gilgamesh into clay tablets. This is significant because lining the jawbone nine feet out to the tip of the tusk appear tiny, consistent scratches from a life form not quite animal, but not yet human. Curiously, not one of the crude sentences describes a living creature doing something. Things happen by themselves. Archaeological linguists theorize that prehistoric “writers” constructed sentences like this because people had not yet been invented. A small sampling:

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Headhunters in the Mist

You know how it is. You’re at 14,000 feet, dropping down the other side of the Cordillera, trekking past the trickles, dropping into the headwaters, paddling along the Huallaga into the Ucayali, destined for the Big River itself, when suddenly, WHAM! What! A dam? Who stuck a dam out here? Everything was moving so nicely!

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The Condiments of Style

Mistakes Writers Make With Their Writing Style

We’re shuffling around the Writing Style Bar with others who also write, reaching out, dropping and slopping and plopping all sorts of goop onto our sentences, anything to make the words go down better. We begin with our own fresh All-Natural Writing Style, squirt it with ketchup, slap it with mustard, sprinkle it with Worcestershire, A-1, maybe a little Tabasco, toss on some relish and onion, add avocado, bacon bits, mayonnaise, tomatillo, chopped almonds, shredded cheese, sliced olives, jalapeños, and top it with a dollop of sour cream. Somewhere beneath all of that same stuff everyone else has piled onto their Writing Styles lies our own pristine All-Natural Writing Style.

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Pickle with That Corned Beef

As you might have heard, I am really good at impersonating former presidents. Like Ronald Reagan: “Wellllll.” See what I mean? If I didn’t know it was I, I would ask myself for an autograph.

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Kluber's Head Rolls into Right Field

For weeks, I’ve been trying to think of a way you could dazzle friends with clever comments about pronouns. At first I tried for something oblique and dismissive, but thought-provoking – like standing before a painting at Chicago’s Art Institute, thumb and forefinger caressing your chin, and muttering, “It’s so derivative.”

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Whether Pigs Have Wings

I think we left off last time with Tweedledee telling Alice about the Walrus:

 

“’The time has come,’ the Walrus said,
‘to talk of many things,
of ins – and ofs – and useless words
and whether pigs have wings.’”

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Beat the Rake with Fergus and Juanita

As promised, I have created another exercise for you. I was inspired by the many of you who use WordRake and have written to tell us you play a game called “Beat the Rake.” (We never outgrow that part of our childhood: making anything a game is the spoonful of sugar.) The idea here is to challenge yourselves to make every edit you think WordRake would make, then turn on WordRake and see if it finds anything else. If you don’t have WordRake yet, you can use the 7-day Free Trial at www.wordrake.com/trial, (PCs only, at least until later in 2017) or click the "ANSWER" link below, and we will show you the raked document, so you can check your editing. This exercise will help you tighten your writing.
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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.

Download a 7-Day Free Trial

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.