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Extra info for A Manual of Writers Tricks, David L. Carroll
Horst was very surprised. Horst let out a long, low whistle . ORDINARY: BETTER: In the Grand Empire the church was becoming a less important public authority than the state. BETTER: In the Grand Empire the church lost its position as public authority when the State swooped down and usurped its major policy-making functions. ORDINARY : When Hitler learned that Paris had surrendered, he and his generals became overjoyed . BETTER: When Hitler learned that Paris had surrendered, he danced a jaunty jig in front of his ecstatic generals.
Read the first of the two preceding sample paragraphs. The writer is angry and guilt-mongering. He makes us 22 TONE feel that the decline of the American work ethic is somehow our fault, and that without doubt we are all doomed . We certainly don't feel any better after having read this outburst, nor do we particularly like its author. As a result, we are probably not going to pay much attention to what he has to say either. The second sample paragraph produces an entirely different effect. The author's assumption that we have a certain political sophistication; that we are familiar with terms like "variant market share"; that we are already informed of pertinent facts ("as you know, absenteeism in Japan is an almost unknown phenomenon")-all this flatters us and makes us feel perceptive and competent.
You as writer know what you are writing about. You are an expert in your field. It is your right , nay, your duty, to sound authoritative and able . So let your competence shine through, not by calling attention to yourself, but by saying what you have to say wisely and well . Don't tell your readers-show them. Many beginning writers make this cardinal error: They describe their thoughts, feelings , and attitudes about a subject rather than allowing the facts , action , and evidence to speak for themselves.
A Manual of Writers Tricks, David L. Carroll