Writers Tips #102: 17 Tips from The Careful Writer

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When you read your story, does it sound off, maybe you can’t quite put your finger on it, but you know you’ve done something wrong? Sometimes–maybe even lots of times–there are simple fixes. These writer’s tips will come at you once a week, giving you plenty of time to go through your story and make the adjustments.

Theodore Bernstein’s fifty-five-year-old, 512-page The Careful Writer: A Modern Guide to English Usage (the Free Press, 1963) and its more than 2000 problem-solving entries has some of the best tips you’ll need if you’re serious about becoming a writer. Bernstein, former consulting editor of the New York Times, wrote/co-wrote seven books on writing, but this one–in my estimation–is his best. The font styles are old; the archaic structure of its syntax at times made me chuckle; and the topic is as appealing as banana juice (though I understand our Army boys in…

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