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]

Ryan Lochte’s “over-exaggerating”

If there were an Olympics for making an apology, swimmer Ryan Lochte wouldn’t qualify. After being outed for his fake claim that he was robbed by men identifying themselves as Brazilian police
If there were an Olympics for making an apology, swimmer Ryan Lochte wouldn’t qualify. After being outed for his fake claim that he was robbed by men identifying themselves as Brazilian police [More]

What makes a good campaign slogan?

Slogan-wise, this year’s presidential campaign gives us Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” and Hillary Clinton’s “Stronger Together” and “I’m with Her.” Trump’s slogan is a call to bring
Slogan-wise, this year’s presidential campaign gives us Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” and Hillary Clinton’s “Stronger Together” and “I’m with Her.” Trump’s slogan is a call to bring [More]

“All grammars leak”: How modern use and misuse are changing the English language

Anthropologist Edward Sapir once wrote, “Unfortunately, or luckily, no language is tyrannically consistent. All grammars leak.” Sapir was talking about the irregularities of language. For me, this
Anthropologist Edward Sapir once wrote, “Unfortunately, or luckily, no language is tyrannically consistent. All grammars leak.” Sapir was talking about the irregularities of language. For me, this [More]

How to write a thank you note

I write a lot of thank you notes. I thank donors of organizations that I support, gift givers after the holidays and birthdays, friends who have invited me over for dinner, guest speakers who come
I write a lot of thank you notes. I thank donors of organizations that I support, gift givers after the holidays and birthdays, friends who have invited me over for dinner, guest speakers who come [More]

Apology Round-Up: 2016 Presidential Race (so far)

It’s an election year and that means we get to think about the language of politicians—their vocabularies, vocal timbre, gestures, accents, metaphors, style, mistakes, and recoveries. I’m always on
It’s an election year and that means we get to think about the language of politicians—their vocabularies, vocal timbre, gestures, accents, metaphors, style, mistakes, and recoveries. I’m always on [More]