Not My Own Words

John E. Usalis is a journalist for our local newspaper, The Pottsville Republican Herald.  Each Sunday he writes a column that he calls Wanderings.  This past Sunday I really enjoyed his column so I thought I would share some of his words of wisdom.  The majority of this post belongs to him and not me.

John devoted his Sunday column to rules for writing.  He credits Frank L. Visco for coming up with the first 11 and the rest he got from other sources.  I’m including all 22 because I think they are worthwhile.  Here goes…just the way it appeared in Sunday’s paper.

  1. Avoid alliteration. Always.
  2. Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.
  3. Avoid clichés like the plague. They’re old hat.
  4. Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.
  5. Writers should never generalize.
  6. Comparisons are as bad as clichés.

Seven. Be Consistent.

  1. Be more or less specific.
  2. Sentence fragments. Eliminate.
  3. Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.
  4. Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are unnecessary.
  5. Who needs rhetorical questions?
  6. Never write one word sentences. Period.
  7. Never use mixed metaphors. That is like comparing apples to a picture worth a thousand oranges.
  8. Above all else, be terse. Don’t carry on and on and on.  No one likes to keep reading and reading and reading and reading and not go anywhere with it.  Make sure that your reader understands what you are trying to convey in as few words as possible, and that you really are trying to limit your words however you can.
  9. Don’t use no double negatives.
  10. Don’t repeat yourself.
  11. About them sentence fragments.
  12. Quit putting commas, where they don’t belong.
  13. Don’t repeat yourself.
  14. always start a sentence with a capitol letter and end with punctuation
  15. Proofread you writing.


I really got a kick out of reading this column.  Even though I did not write it, I just had to share.  Hope you enjoyed.

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8 responses to “Not My Own Words

  1. This was so funny. When I did a first glans, I saw that number seven was different…when I began reading, I saw the reason. I actually laughed out loud. Thank you. I needed an uplifting post and you sure filled that need. 🙂

  2. LOVE this list! Thanks for sharing it.

  3. So funny! I know I break some of those rules every Tuesday. 🙂

  4. Printing it out for my classroom – you may just hear laughter all the way from New Jersey tomorrow morning!

  5. Oh my, so funny. Like others, will share, hope the students will love it, too, at least the older ones. Thanks so much for the laugh!

  6. Judy C.

    You brought a smile to my face and I kept snickering as the list continued. I’m pretty sure that I have stepped on each one of this rules over the years.

  7. I love it and the funny thing is, I could see you writing something like this!

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