I've read William Zinsser's On Writing Well twice, and it is time for me to read it again. It is not only fun to read and loaded with good advice for writers, but it also inspires me to write. Open Culture honored Zinsser (who died at the age of 92 on Sunday) by posting 10 of his writing tips.
Zinsser stressed simplicity and efficiency, but also style and enthusiasm. Here are 10 of his many tips for improving your writing.
- Don’t make lazy word choices: “You’ll never make your mark as a writer unless you develop a respect for words and a curiosity about their shades of meaning that is almost obsessive. The English language is rich in strong and supple words. Take the time to root around and find the ones you want.”
- On the other hand, avoid jargon and big words: “Clear thinking becomes clear writing; one can’t exist without the other. It’s impossible for a muddy thinker to write good English.”
- Writing is hard work: “A clear sentence is no accident. Very few sentences come out right the first time, or even the third time. Remember this in moments of despair. If you find that writing is hard, it’s because it is hard.”
- Write in the first person: “Writing is an intimate transaction between two people, conducted on paper, and it will go well to the extent that it retains its humanity.”
- And the more you keep in first person and true to yourself, the sooner you will find your style: “Sell yourself, and your subject will exert its own appeal. Believe in your own identity and your own opinions. Writing is an act of ego, and you might as well admit it.”
- Don’t ask who your audience is…you are the audience: “You are writing primarily to please yourself, and if you go about it with enjoyment you will also entertain the readers who are worth writing for.”
- Study the masters but also your contemporaries: “Writing is learned by imitation. If anyone asked me how I learned to write, I’d say I learned by reading the men and women who were doing the kind of writing I wanted to do and trying to figure out how they did it.”
- Yes, the thesaurus is your friend: “The Thesaurus is to the writer what a rhyming dictionary is to the songwriter–a reminder of all the choices–and you should use it with gratitude. If, having found the scalawag and the scapegrace, you want to know how they differ, then go to the dictionary.”
- Read everything you write out loud for rhythm and sound: “Good writers of prose must be part poet, always listening to what they write.”
- And don’t ever believe you are going to write anything definitive: “Decide what corner of your subject you’re going to bite off, and be content to cover it well and stop.”
I usually avoid hot sauce because I'm afraid it might contain onions and/or cilantro, both of which are loathsome by any objective standard. Here's a hot sauce recipe from my friends Kelly and Erik at Homegrown Evolution that sounds perfect.
Read the rest
Read the rest
This bus ad for Cardiff-based New Adventure Travel lasted 3 hours before it was pulled.
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Read the rest
It took me a few tries to get the hang of cooking with an Anova sous-vide immersion circulator, but now I love it.
Here's how you cook something sous vide (under vacuum) style - put meat or vegetables (along with spices and fat) into a plastic bag with the air removed, and submerse it in a controlled temperature water bath for a couple of hours of more. Remove the food and sear it in a pan or with a torch. Sous vide cooks food gently and evenly all the way through. I made pork tenderloin using this Nom Nom Paleo recipe and it was incredibly tender.
The Anova has a Bluetooth radio. You can sync it to an iPhone, call up a recipe, and press a button on the app to start a temperature cycle. But I usually just use the buttons on the Anova device itself to set the temperature. When I make the pork tenderloin, I set the temperature to 135F and let it run for about 5 or 6 hours (the Nom Nom recipe calls for a minimum of 2 hours). I have learned that it's better to cook something for at least 3 or 4 hours. That way, the food is completely cooked, yet it is still tender.
I'd love to hear your favorite sous vide recipes and tips in the comments.
In January, Officer Vince Warlick opened a door into a police detention room where two teens were being held in handcuffs and calmly shot what appears to be pepper spray in their faces. Officer Warlick has not been disciplined, but the Alton Board of Aldermen voted not to reappoint Chief Jason Simmons after the video was aired on TV.
Student Courtney Yule designed the Entopod, a "starter kit" for eating bugs.
It includes a grinder for making insect flour, detachable containers for heating the insecto-food in the oven, and more!
In a gesture of respect for the delicate morals of its angry, fear-obsessed viewership, Fox 5 News in New York blurred out the abstract breasts of Picasso's Women of Algiers (Version O), which sold for $179 million this week. New York magazine senior art critic Jerry Saltz called Fox5NY "sexually sick."
Note: a previous version of this story did not specify that the blurring was done by a Fox owned affiliate, rather than the Fox News Channel.
Lindy West of GQ profiles Nathalie Emmanuel, the scene stealing actress who plays Missandei, the consigliere to Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones.
Photo credit: David Burton/GQ
From The Museum of Classic Chicago Television: "Here's a commercial for the videogame Pitfall! by Activision and featuring at the beginning a very young-looking appearance of the actor Jack Black - rockin' the pith helmet."
This is cool. The Arduboy is an Arduino-based game system that makes it easy to program your own games on it.
Arduboy is an open platform for people to play, create and share games. A game system the size of a credit card. Choose your favorite classic game from the completely free Arduboy Arcade. Built on the popular Arduino software, it’s also an excellent way to learn how to program! Because you can learn to make your own games, Arduboy is a game system the size of your imagination!
The takeaway from this story: never consent to a warrantless search.
On April 15 a DEA agent boarded a passenger train in Albuquerque and began grilling people about where they were going and why. Joseph Rivers, a 22-year-old black man, told the agent he was going to LA to make a music video. The agent asked Rivers if he could search his bags, and Rivers, bless his naive heart, consented. The agent didn't find drugs or weapons, but he found $16,000 in cash, so he took it, simply because a black man with that much money must be a drug dealer.
Joline Gutierrez Krueger of the Albuquerque Journal writes,
Rivers was left penniless, his dream deferred.
“These officers took everything that I had worked so hard to save and even money that was given to me by family that believed in me,” Rivers said in his email. “I told (the DEA agents) I had no money and no means to survive in Los Angeles if they took my money. They informed me that it was my responsibility to figure out how I was going to do that.”
Other travelers had witnessed what happened. One of them, a New Mexico man I’ve written about before but who asked that I not mention his name, provided a way for Rivers to get home, contacted attorneys – and me.
“He was literally like my guardian angel that came out of nowhere,” Rivers said.
Joseph Rivers has a GoFundMe campaign to replace the $16,000.
Meet Adrianne Lewis, 18, who is in possession of what may be the world's longest tongue. She's got a YouTube channel where she talks about her tongue.
My sister's family has this "Unless you sell Thin Mints... No Soliciting" sign next to their door. She says it works - no one has tried to sell her magazine subscriptions and the Girl Scouts who come by are excited to find a happy customer.
When I posted the photo to Facebook, a couple of my friends took pictures of their own funny door signs:
Gareth Branwyn says, "I finally got to 'use' my sign a few weeks ago. I had two guys from Verizon show up at my front door. Once I knew they were selling something, I asked: 'Did you bring bacon?' They looked at me like dogs that had just heard a high-pitched squeal. I pointed behind me to the sign. 'Then I'm not interested.' They looked at me like they suddenly might be concerned for my mental well-being and quickly headed back down my walk."
Here's Bart Nagel's cover-all-your-cases "Cheap Apolitical Pagans Live Here" door sign.
Jason DeFillippo has a message for nosey cops: "Come Back with a Warrant"