'Championship Writing' -- Fresh approaches

'Championship Writing' -- Fresh approaches
For the final post in my series on “Championship Writing” by writing coach Paula LaRocque, I’ll review her recommendations for “Fresh approaches.” (This is only column, or chapter, 28 in her subtitle’s list of “50 ways to improve your writing.” Previous posts, such as the ones linked to highlighted words, have considered nine other columns/chapters.)... Read more »

'Championship Writing' - Avoiding the predictable

'Championship Writing' - Avoiding the predictable
My penultimate favorite chapter in “Championship Writing” by Paula LaRocque is “Avoiding the predictable.” (Of course, if you read last week’s post, you knew I was going to write that.) Writing coach LaRocque’s book is full of advice on different topics; the subtitle is “50 ways to improve your writing,” and we’re at the next-to-last... Read more »

'Championship Writing' -- Notes on usage

'Championship Writing' -- Notes on usage
In Paula LaRocque’s book “Championship Writing: 50 ways to improve your writing,” chapters were originally columns in Quill, the magazine of the Society of Professional Journalists. That makes it feel fitting that this week’s entry among my favorite chapters, “Notes on usage,” is labelled “columns 18 & 19.” Part of this section is the typical... Read more »
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How to keep your new diary going on 'ordinary' days

How to keep your new diary going on 'ordinary' days
Have you just started a diary? Maybe it seemed like a good idea on Jan. 1, or whenever you got it as a present — but today’s just an ordinary, foggy weekday. What’s so great about writing in your diary today? Well, what’s ordinary today isn’t going to be ordinary in a few weeks… or... Read more »

'Championship Writing' -- on Spell-checkers

'Championship Writing' -- on Spell-checkers
When you use your computer’s spell-checker or grammar-checker, Paula LaRocque advises in her book “Championship Writing,” be careful. “The grammar-checker’s shortcomings recall the truism that to create artificial intelligence, it takes the real thing,” writes LaRocque, assistant managing editor and writing coach at the Dallas Morning News (when she wrote this book at the turn... Read more »

'Championship Writing' -- Pet peeves

'Championship Writing' -- Pet peeves
Another of my ten favorites among the 50 chapters of “Championship Writing” by writing coach Paula LaRocque is Chapter 16, “Pet peeves: Go ahead, ax me about irregardless.” (Whew. Typing that subtitle hurt!) For previous chapters covered in this series of posts on LaRocque’s book, try these links for tips about writing that’s bumpy or... Read more »
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Merry Mary -- a phonetics professor in Chicago

Merry Mary -- a phonetics professor in Chicago
News item: “My Fair Lady” is the next Broadway-style musical to be produced at Chicago’s Lyric Opera House, starting in Spring 2017. We don’t seem to have “phonetics professors” like Henry Higgins here in Chicago, so imagine an acting coach with a student actress named Mary… a student actress with a Chicago accent. Coach: Say... Read more »

'Championship Writing,' grammatically speaking

'Championship Writing,' grammatically speaking
My next favorite chapter in “Championship Writing’ by Paula LaRocque is “Grammatically Speaking: Writers should avoid polluting the language environment.” (To catch up on other posts in this series, click here and here.) To avoid trouble with pronouns, LaRocque recommends what she calls “the substitution game.” If you need to be sure which pronoun is... Read more »

Fight for your right to use party as a noun

Fight for your right to use party as a noun
I’ve been a stickler about words for a long time now. In the mid-1980s, around the time I finished my journalism degree and got my first job, I disliked a song called “Fight for your right to party” by The Beastie Boys. I never liked the use of “to party” as a verb. In my school days, the... Read more »
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'Championship Writing' -- Fadspeak (ca. 2000), still bad today

'Championship Writing' -- Fadspeak (ca. 2000), still bad today
My favorite chapter for today in ‘Championship Writing’ by Paula LaRocque is Chapter 8, “Fadspeak.” I enjoyed it and benefitted from its coaching when I got the book in 2002. (To catch up with another favorite, click here.) Its lessons in avoiding clichés, or “canned clutter” as LaRocque calls them, are easier to obey now that the... Read more »