How to be a better writer: 6 tips from Harvard master linguist Steven Pinker
Eric Barker stashed this in Diabolical Plans For World Domination
Here are six of Harvard linguist Steven Pinker's six tips for good writing:
- Be visual and conversational. Be concrete, make your reader see and stop trying to impress.
- Beware "the curse of knowledge." Have someone read your work and tell you if it makes sense. Your own brain cannot be trusted.
- Don't bury the lead. Clarity beats suspense. If they don't know what it's about they can't follow along.
- You don't have to play by the rules, but try. If you play it straight 99 percent of the time, that 1 percent will really shine.
- Read Read Read. The English language is too complex to learn from one book. Never stop learning.
- Good writing means revising. Never hit "send" or "print" without reviewing your work — preferably multiple times.
Rules, rules, rules. There is a science behind these words but as Pinker makes clear, language is ever-evolving. It's organic and alive.
A writer is someone who has taught his mind to misbehave.