William Safire’s Rules for Writers
In twenty-five short rules, William Safire has managed to nail down what all good writers should know.
1. Don't abbrev.
2. Check to see if you any words out.
3. Be carefully to use adjectives and adverbs correct.
4. About sentence fragments.
5. When dangling, don't use participles.
6. Don't use no double negatives.
7. Each pronoun agrees with their antecedent.
8. Just between You and i, case is important.
9. Join clauses good, like a conjunction should.
10. Don't use commas, that aren't necessary.
11. Its important to use apostrophe's right.
12. It's better not to unnecessarily split an infinitive.
13. Never leave a transitive verb just lay there without an object.
14. Only Proper Nouns should be capitalized. also a sentence should.
15. begin with a capital and end with a period
16. Use hyphens in compound-words, not just in any two-word phrase.
17. In letters compositions reports and things like that we use commas
18. to keep a string of items apart.
19. Watch out for irregular verbs which have creeped into our language.
20. Verbs has to agree with their subjects.
21. Avoid unnecessary redundancy.
22. A writer mustn't shift your point of view.
23. Don't write a run-on sentence you've got to punctuate it.
24. A preposition isn't a good thing to end a sentence with.
25. Avoid cliches like the plague.
Writers like to think they can break the rules. Rules are made to be broken, right? I think so - especially if the author is clever enough to get away with it. But I tend to agree with Mr. Safire here. Good writers, really good ones, play by the rules.
What about you? Do you play by the rules? Do you know an author who breaks 'em well? If so, give us an example of how they got away with it.