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26

Many competent writers will challenge the assertion that "the perpendicular pronoun" (I) really needs to be avoided. Others seem to believe that only third person is acceptable, or that no person should ever be mentioned unless specifically talking about people. My own take is that this is all a matter of style, and whatever you pick -- as long as it ...


24

I think that technically the only reason not to use profanity in your writing when you want it is if censorship will prevent you from reaching your target audience. For example, you want tweens to read your book but their fucking parents won't let them because of the fucking swearing. Swearing is like salt on food though, too much or on the wrong dishes ...


19

Competence precludes finding oneself needing to mean "I" but having to say "this writer" - or, variously: the author your correspondent this ink-stained wretch (please, no!) TBH, the form hardly matters - silk purses and sow's ears, etc.


18

I think Stephen King's comments are helpful in this regard. He says to write what you know. If you work or live around people who swear, quite frankly, you're probably going to have a hard time keeping it out of your books. In which case, I'm not sure you should even try. People swear - that's life. That's just the way things are. If a person doesn't ...


16

Rewriting to avoid "had had" is almost always a good idea. It reads even more terribly than it sounds. The easy way out is to use a contraction: I'd had enough of this nonsense and was ready to move on. ...but that's a little cheap. Depending on the context of the quote, you have several options: Having had enough of this nonsense, I was ready ...


16

First of all, thinking of some conversations as solely the domain of women and some as solely the domain of men is not going to get you anywhere. For example I know of many female computer programmers, women in a male-dominated career field, who can talk circles around most guys when it comes to discussing computer hardware. I know men who enjoy sharing ...


16

In science, it is quite common to use "we" instead of "I" even if there is only one author.


14

I don't use it. I would caution against others using it, or any other thesaurus. I think that a large, varied vocabulary is a great thing, but the problem with gaining your vocabulary from a reference source rather than from reading prose is that you don't really get the more subtle meanings and shadings. Somebody once said that there's no such thing as ...


14

In my opinion, the passage of a moment is better expressed by filling it with some action. To illustrate, let's rewrite your last example: "After a moment, he decided to walk west." How about this? "He looked to the east. In that direction lay nothing but the ruins of his former life. Turning away, he decided to walk west." Or: "Thinking about what she had ...


13

Orson Scott Card answers your question precisely and eloquently in his excellent Character and Viewpoint, under the heading One Name Per Character. Go, read. For posterity, I'll summarize: Names should be treated as "invisible words" - they're so common, the reader hardly notices them. You can repeat them as often as you like, without worrying about ...


12

Here's a technique that can help: Identify each instance of he saw or he heard or he thought. If you're writing a close third person POV, you can often eliminate those by simply saying what he saw or heard or thought. Instead of: He saw Sandra cross the room. you can say: Sandra crossed the room. Other times the edit isn't quite so simple, but ...


12

I can think of four ways to lessen the repetitive use of sentences starting with a nominative pronoun like "She" (other than using the person's name). Changing the subject to a part or aspect of the character In some cases, one can present the action as performed by some part or aspect of the person. While this will typically use the genitive form of the ...


11

There's nothing wrong with phrases like "after a moment". Just be careful not to overuse them. If you find yourself writing: Al entered the room. After a moment, Sally entered also. A moment later, Al said, "Oh, Sally, it's you." Sally paused for a moment ... Using the same word or phrase (other than an article, pronoun, or short preposition) ...


10

I'm not sure if there's a good, quick fix for this. I learned how to write English in an intelligent, formal manner from learning German, and reading lots, and lots, of English. Anyhow, avoid "kind of" and "sort of." That used to drive my English teachers crazy. Also avoid the verb "to be" when possible. Sometimes "to be" is the best option, but not as ...


10

Firstly, it's always a good idea to clearly indicate whether the message reflects an actual error, or simply a warning which the user may choose to ignore. Secondly, try to minimise use of "jargon" terms such as translate, higher precedence, and overrides. Warning: The 'name1' concept1 is assumed to be a type of 'name3' concept3, not a 'name2' concept2. ...


9

A thesaurus is helpful when the word you want is "on the tip of your tongue." I look up whatever word I can think of that is closest in meaning to the word I want, and then from there, I "surf" the thesaurus, flipping from word to word, coming closer in approximation to the desired word. I find the exact word I had in mind probably 80% of the time. A ...


9

Keep in mind that you can easily swear without swearing. Try one or both of these, where appropriate: Indirect swearing: Say that someone swore, just don't go into detail. For example, if J.K. Rowling has her characters swear, what's written is something like: "Ron swore loudly" rather than the word(s) he/she actually said. In-world swearing: For sci-fi, ...


9

In many cases, "I think"/"you think" can be removed. In some cases, such can be replaced with "believe", "know", "am convinced", or the like when seeking to communicate personal sentiment, involvement, or expertise (i.e., when "I think" would be meaningful but not quite fitting). If there is a desire to communicate uncertainty, one can use "seems", ...


8

It does feel weird when you're writing, but you don't notice it when you're reading. Use the name the first time in a paragraph and the pronoun thereafter.


8

Will this do? I achieved a strong 2:1 in X at Y University and excelled in modules studied during my final year, and received a First in many of them. They included a Financial Analysis and Control module in which I attained a strong First (72%) for a financial performance analysis of Company Z. You basically have to rephrase to get rid of "whiches". ...


8

Capitals in English are used for proper nouns. Your two examples have slightly different shades of meaning. One of my favorite subjects was Computational Geometry. I read that as "One of my favorite subjects was Math 247, the specific course entitled 'Computational Geometry,' taught by Professor Angleton." One of my favorite subjects was computational ...


8

Sparkling is a bit odd in this context. Sparkling means a light (or many small lights) flashing quickly. It has a connotation of being decorative, or pretty, or expensive (like diamonds, for example). If what you mean to say is that these various ideas were occuring quickly and then being replaced by the next idea, then "flashing through" might be a more ...


8

You have a few things going on here: 1) If the story is first-person, your problem is solved. We rarely address ourselves by our given names in internal monologues. 2) If your story is in third person, then you have a cultural issue. The children may not get official Names (Starfall, Willow, Runs With Scissors) until they do something to earn it. But you ...


8

I had a similar problem with my book, since it was aimed mainly for Portuguese speakers but the two main Portuguese speaking countries - Brazil and Portugal - have really different cultural scenes and even the language is somewhat different. In some cases, I had to use footnotes and explain outside of the narrative what somethings were. At other points, my ...


8

There are many synonyms to but. For the meaning you are pointing out in your question, some of them would be still, nevertheless, nonetheless, though, although, and yet. You can find these and the ones for the other meanings in any site with synonyms lookup function, such as Thesaurus ("but" synonyms). However, it should be noted that it can be ...


7

In English "brain" typically refers to the organ itself. The gray and white matter; the neurons. You probably want to say that we train our minds. In English, the mind is what controls our thoughts, feelings, and emotions. The brain is merely the vehicle for our cognitive processes. I don't know if other languages account for the difference between the ...


7

Participles are not -past action- unless they are actually past tense. Your English major friend should learn more about English. "Having tried" would be the past action. What you used was a "verbal adjective." The structure you used is called a participial phrase. While they are valid grammatical structures, they are somewhat antiquated in the modern ...


7

what about Information IS Power


7

Emails saying "thank you" for something are generally informal; style is less of an issue than simple gratitude and sincerity. So there's really no problem with your email, unless you've got a particular reason to be concerned about eloquence. If you do want to work in more variety, some good alternatives include: "I really appreciate [X]" or "Your [X] is ...



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