William’s Ten Principles for Writing Clearly

From “Style”

  1. Distinguish real grammatical rules from folklore
  2. Use subjects to name the characters in your story
  3. Use verbs to name their important actions
  4. Open your sentences with familiar units of information.
  5. Begin sentences constituting a passive with consistent topic/subjects.
  6. Get to the main verb quickly:
    • Avoid long introductory phrases and clauses.
    • Avoid long abstract subjects
    • Avoid interrupting the subject-verb connection
  7. Push new, complex units of information to the end of the sentence
  8. Be consice:
    • Cut meaningless and repeated words and obvious implications
    • Put the meaning of phrases into one or two words.
    • Prefer affirmative sentences to negative ones.
  9. Control sprawl.
    • Don’t tack more than one subordinate clause onto another.
    • Extend a sentence with resumptive, summative, and free modifiers.
    • Extend a sentence with coordinate structures after verbs.
  10. Above all, write to others as you would have others write to you.

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