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Here are 13 tips from cognitive scientist Steven Pinker for better writing / Boing Boing



In January 19459003 via Twitter cognitive scientist Steven Pinker, author of Enlightenment Now, shared 13 tips for writing with:

  1. reverse engineer what you read. If it feels like good writing, what does it matter? If it's terrible, why?
  2. Prose is a window to the world. Let your readers see what you see by using visual, concrete language.
  3. Do not go meta. Minimize concepts into concepts such as "approach, assumption, concept, condition, context, framework, topic, level, model, perspective, process, reach, role, strategy, tendency," and "variable."
  4. Let verbs be verbs. "Show", not "show".
  5. Beware of the curse of knowledge: If you know something, it's hard to imagine what it's like not knowing it. Minimize acronyms and technical terms. Use "for example" generously. Show a design and get ready to find out that what is obvious to you is not obvious to anyone else.
  6. Do not say unnecessary words (Will Strunk was right).
  7. Avoid clichés like the plague (thanks, William Safire
  8. Old information at the beginning of the sentence, new information at the end.)
  9. The hardest thing to conclude: A complex phrase should be at the end of the sentence. [1
    9659003] Prose must be coherent: Readers need to know how each sentence relates to the previous one, and if it is not obvious, use "generally, for example, but anyway, as a result, anyway" or "despite".
  10. Revisit the only one goal to improve the improvement on several occasions Prose
  11. Read it out.
  12. Find the best word that is not always the fanciest word. Consult a dictionary with application notes and a thesaurus.

[via Open Culture]

Picture of Rose Lincoln / Harvard University – https://stevenpinker.com/content/photographs-steven-pinker, CC BY 3.0, Link

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mark frauenfelder

Mark Frauenfelder is the founder of Boing Boing and the editor-in-chief of MAKE. He is Research Director at the Institute for the Future and Editor-in-Chief of Cool Tools and co-founder of Wink Books. Twitter: @women fields .

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