Rhetoric & Composition I: Autumn 2012 Rotating Header Image

The best writing on writing that you might read all year

From the NYT series “Draft,” on writing:

It’s helpful to pretend you didn’t write the sentence, but that’s not enough (and self-deceit of that kind vanishes quickly). The trick is discovering a literal-mindedness in yourself and developing it until you can read with cunning. Try to practice reading your own sentences the way the reader does — with no advance knowledge of what they say. Be alert for ambiguities of every kind. Become a connoisseur of ambiguity. Sentences are wily and multifarious, secretive, mischievous. Language is inherently playful, eager to make nonsense and no-sense if it gets out of order. Inexperienced writers tend to trust that sentences will generally turn out all right — or all right enough. Experienced writers know that every good sentence is retrieved by will from the forces of chaos.

Read the full article: The Trouble With Intentions.