Category Archives: Writing

Sentences I like

This is my second post about sentences I’ve encountered that struck me as very well-worded, poignant, impactful sentences that I would have been proud to write. (Here is the first post.) His teeth felt strange in his head, tiny tombstones … Continue reading

Posted in Books, Writing | 2 Comments

Scientific terms list for spell-checkers/spelling dictionaries

[UPDATE: This post is out of date. Please see my static page Scientific word list for spell-checkers/spelling dictionaries for up-to-date information about these scientific word lists. I mean, the links to the files custom_scientific_US.txt and custom_scientific_UK.txt below will take you … Continue reading

Posted in Career, Language, Science, Writing | 11 Comments

Stop suggesting rewording or rearranging when word order is not the problem

A recent comment on my post about en dashes, in which the commenter offered one very helpful fix but otherwise tried and failed to improve the clarity of several phrases by rewriting the phrases altogether, is only the latest example … Continue reading

Posted in Blagging, Grammar, Language, Writing | Leave a comment

Wise thoughts on “literally” vs. “figuratively”

In the Salon article by Mary Elizabeth Williams, which I’ve already written two posts about but I promise this is the last one, this comment by machineghost struck me as entirely reasonable and wise: So the problem with literally becoming … Continue reading

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Any writer who rails against sentential Hopefully and the passive voice in general is not worth listening to

Look. I sympathize with Mary Elizabeth Williams. I really do. I hate it when people misuse a word, and I hate the idea of English speakers separated by time and space meaning different things when they use the same words … Continue reading

Posted in Language, Morans, Writing | 2 Comments

Bryan Garner interview in VICE magazine

I liked several passages of this interview of Bryan A. Garner in VICE magazine: As we saw the rise of literacy over the next few hundred years, especially in the beginning of the 18th century, the language became relatively more … Continue reading

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Quote of the day

It’s not as musical as Spanish, or Italian, or French, or as ornamental as Arabic, or as vibrant as some of your native languages. But I’m hopelessly in love with English because it’s plain and it’s strong. William Zinsser, Writing … Continue reading

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Superstitions and fetishes make for bad writing and editing

Scientific editors are a difficult group to deal with. Most of them are either bad writers or not experts on the topic they’re editing at a given time, or both. Either shortcoming often leads them to make unnecessary, unwise, or … Continue reading

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In praise of highly serial television shows

When I was in high school, planning to go to college to major in something scientific (it ended up being Genetics), I remember thinking that college English classes and Literature classes didn’t reward writing that (only) got to the point, … Continue reading

Posted in Entertainment, TV, Writing | Leave a comment

The author’s intent does matter

An important lesson that most of us, I hope, learned from English class is that the most important aspect of a work of literature is how it affects us: how it makes us think of other people and our relationships … Continue reading

Posted in Books, Morans, Writing | 5 Comments

Web fonts

I’ve been a little bit giddy over the last couple days at my discovery that the fonts used on my website are not limited to the fonts I have or others are likely to have on their computers. Rather, a … Continue reading

Posted in Blagging, Writing | 2 Comments

Sentences I like

I was told I was a good writer from a young age, and throughout school, including writing grants and a co-first-author manuscript in graduate school, I always felt I had a knack for writing. I never took English after 12th … Continue reading

Posted in Writing | 1 Comment

The en dash vs. the hyphen: examples for more precise English usage

You can tell there’s something wrong with me when I have a favorite punctuation mark. It’s the en dash, the bastard middle child between the hyphen and em dash, but it can provide oh-so-much clarity and eliminate oh-so-much ambiguity once … Continue reading

Posted in Grammar, Writing | 9 Comments

“The Silence of the Lambs” in limerick form

From Randall Munroe’s Wikipedia entry I learned he founded the Limerick Database to collect all the funny classics and new limericks that people could submit. It changed my life. I highly recommend reading the 150 top-rated limericks. However, since the … Continue reading

Posted in Entertainment, Freakin' sweet, Writing | Leave a comment

Stephen King’s “Gunslinger” series

Based on the testimony of my friends and acquaintances, Stephen King’s “Gunslinger” series is a phenomenal achievement of literature that everyone should experience if they want to live a full and rich life. At first I was surprised at the … Continue reading

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Sandra Tsing Loh is a bad writer

I’ve thought of myself as a pretty good writer since I was in elementary school, having been told several times throughout my life by people worth listening to that I had a talent for it. I just haven’t had any … Continue reading

Posted in Interwebs, Life, Writing | 2 Comments

Voynich manuscript

The Voynich manuscript is one the most fascinating things I have heard about in a long, long time. I mean, what a fantastic mystery and a fantastic achievement by whoever wrote it! Of course I first heard about it from … Continue reading

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“Definitely” doesn’t have any A’s!!!

Misspelling the word “definitely” is definitely my new pet peeve of the month. True, most of my pet peeves involve grammar or punctuation, so this is nothing special, but where did all these people get the idea all of a … Continue reading

Posted in Interwebs, Writing | 2 Comments