How to write for an Encyclopedia or other reference work

From time to time, many of us will have the opportunity to write for a reference work like an encyclopedia or a handbook. The word encyclopedia has been around for a couple of thousand years and
From time to time, many of us will have the opportunity to write for a reference work like an encyclopedia or a handbook. The word encyclopedia has been around for a couple of thousand years and [More]

How to write about theatre performances

It’s the theatre season in my town of Ashland, Oregon, and I’m keeping up with the play reviews and talking with reviewers about what makes a good review. Reviewing a play is different than
It’s the theatre season in my town of Ashland, Oregon, and I’m keeping up with the play reviews and talking with reviewers about what makes a good review. Reviewing a play is different than [More]

How to use repetition

A couple times a week, I hear someone remark “It is what it is,” accompanied by a weary sigh. I always puzzle over the expression a little bit, thinking What else could it be? The post How to use
A couple times a week, I hear someone remark “It is what it is,” accompanied by a weary sigh. I always puzzle over the expression a little bit, thinking What else could it be? The post How to use [More]

How green became green

The original Earth Day Proclamation in 1970 refers to "our beautiful blue planet," and the first earth day flag consisted of a NASA photo of the Earth on a dark blue background. But the color of
The original Earth Day Proclamation in 1970 refers to "our beautiful blue planet," and the first earth day flag consisted of a NASA photo of the Earth on a dark blue background. But the color of [More]

How and when to quote

I have a confession to make. I often skip the long blocks of quotes when I am reading academic articles and books. I suspect that I'm not the only one who does this. I don't skip the quotes because
I have a confession to make. I often skip the long blocks of quotes when I am reading academic articles and books. I suspect that I'm not the only one who does this. I don't skip the quotes because [More]

How to write dialogue

I'm sitting at my computer early in the morning and my wife walks in. "Good morning," she says. "Is there any more coffee?" I nod. "Do you want some?" I answer. "I'll get it," she says. "What are
I'm sitting at my computer early in the morning and my wife walks in. "Good morning," she says. "Is there any more coffee?" I nod. "Do you want some?" I answer. "I'll get it," she says. "What are [More]

The language of chess

The dust has barely settled on last year’s world chess championship match in New York: Norway’s Magnus Carlson defended his title again the tough challenger Sergei Karjakin, in a close match. The
The dust has barely settled on last year’s world chess championship match in New York: Norway’s Magnus Carlson defended his title again the tough challenger Sergei Karjakin, in a close match. The [More]

Understanding insults

When I was growing up in New Jersey, trading insults was part of making your way through the middle school: “If they put your brain on the edge of a razor blade, it would look like a BB rolling down
When I was growing up in New Jersey, trading insults was part of making your way through the middle school: “If they put your brain on the edge of a razor blade, it would look like a BB rolling down [More]

How to write a good sentence

Some years ago, I sent off a manuscript to an editor. After the usual period of review, the editor sent back a note saying that he liked the work, but suggested that I should make it “less
Some years ago, I sent off a manuscript to an editor. After the usual period of review, the editor sent back a note saying that he liked the work, but suggested that I should make it “less [More]

How to write a grant proposal

Whatever its scale or ambition, a grant proposal aims to do two things: to show that a particular project needs to be supported by a funder and to show why some individual, group or organization is
Whatever its scale or ambition, a grant proposal aims to do two things: to show that a particular project needs to be supported by a funder and to show why some individual, group or organization is [More]