Tag Archives: advice

The first rule of writing

rules-for-writeresPeople love rules – in writing as in everything else.  Lists of rules litter the internet: “Five rules for better paragraphs”, “Seven habits of successful writers”, “Ten top tips for clearer writing”.  (Those latter two might be labeled “habits” and “tips”, but they’re really presented as rules: do this and you will be successful; don’t, and you won’t.) I haven’t read “Rules for Writers”, but I’m willing to bet it’s just chock full of rules for writers.  Sometimes you can tell a book by its cover.

There’s really just one rule of writing, though, and that is There Are No Hardfast Rules. Continue reading

A passage of text, edited to remove passive voice

Write as I say, not as I do

Image: what every one of my Methods sections looks like after my passive voice search-and-destroy!

Heard_Scientist'sGuide cover I probably should have seen this coming, but ever since people found out I was working on a book on scientific writing, I get mistaken for a good writer.  I get asked for advice; I get asked to give writing workshops and teach writing courses; and people turn to my own papers looking for examples of excellent writing (and even for touches of humour and beauty).  You may find it odd, but all this has taken me somewhat aback. Continue reading