Tuesday, September 7, 2010

How to Write "Well"

I’d like to talk today about some of my biggest “pet peeves;” subjects that really “grind my gears,” if you will. These “epidemics” have become increasingly apparent in both the personal and “business-oriented” correspondence of our society, and I am writing this essay with the goal of improving our various “day-to-day” writing for the greater good of the community as a whole.

The first, and most glaring, subject about which I would like to talk is the use of “unnecessary” quotation marks. Quotation marks are a form of punctuation “invented,” as it were, to more fully integrate human speech with more “narrative” forms of writing. The “problem,” as far as I can see it, is when writers “overuse” quotations marks with words and/or phrases that don’t “necessarily” “take-on” the “usual” meaning that we associate with them. And what, may I ask, is the point of utilizing quotation marks in this manner? They merely confuse the reader into thinking that he or she is supposed to “interpret” the quoted phrase in a “different” or “unusual” way which is not always clear. And that, if I may be so bold, makes our correspondence all the more “convoluted.”

I would also, time permitting, like to reflect on another of these “problems;” this one being the padding of our writing with “clever” phrases which serve no apparent purpose. If something isn’t deemed “necessary” by the majority of readers, then, by all means, the writer should remove, or, more fittingly, “delete” it from his or her prose with the ultimate goal of making his or her writing more “concise.” Because, after all, if our writing becomes shorter, and, by pure proxy, “clearer” and “easier to read,” we can stop our precious time from “flying” and produce more higher-quality writing.

The last subject under discussion is the most “glaring” of all: hypocrisy. In today’s so-called “modern” society, people have become so “wrapped-up” in “capturing” the attention of their superiors, as it were, that they lose touch with the ideas they were attempting to convey in the first place. By trying “overly hard” to produce quality work, be it at the office, when writing a term paper, or when applying to college, people tend to place more importance on official-sounding “legalese” than on saying something useful. Thus, in conclusion, their “wholehearted” attempts at producing “appropriate” writing actually cause them to move further away from their apparent “target.”

The solution, it would seem, is simple: forget about sounding “important” or “businesslike” and just write in a straightforward way. Forget about utilizing all those fancy words and “business writing” styles that you inevitably “catch a glimpse of” everywhere you go, and just write what comes “naturally.” This, in turn, will help you become a better writer.

1 comment:

Mike said...

Quotes around normal terms is weird and confusing to me too. Makes me think that the writer is not on board with what he or she is writing, putting quotes around words because they don't want to take responsibility for writing them. But, I do like to use quotes (in a sarcastic way) to highlight the fact that I find some terms really stupid, and I mean no confusion by it. For instance Ian, it's about time that I go "unstack" my dishwasher, hooooooo hooooo hoooooooo. Now, if the point of that was to communicate that I find the verb your family uses with dishwashers is funny, AND I thought it necessary to go unload the dishwasher, I can find no more concise and truly clever way to put it.