Articles Tagged with Writing

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Lack of Oxford Comma Costs Maine Company Millions in Overtime Dispute,” by Daniel Victor, March 16, 2017, New York Times.

A class-action lawsuit about overtime pay for truck drivers hinged entirely on a debate that has bitterly divided friends, families and foes: The dreaded — or totally necessary — Oxford comma, perhaps the most polarizing of punctuation marks.

What ensued in The United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, and in a 29-page court decision handed down on Monday, was an exercise in high-stakes grammar pedantry that could cost a dairy company in Portland, Me., an estimated $10 million….” [Link to full NYT article.]

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An OSB editor takes to task users of the term “and/or”  – and makes a practical suggestion on how to avoid driving your editor mad:

“…. So how do you avoid this problem? The answer, as the muttering editor will tell you, is to simply say what you mean. If you mean or, say or; if you mean and, say and; if you mean one or the other or both, say just that. For example, the defendant may be charged with unlawful arrest or malicious prosecution, or both….”  [Link to the OSB Legal Pubs blog post and/or.]

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Writers: if you are not a cop, a lawyer, or a librarian (to name only 3 professions that appear a lot in fiction), please do your homework. There are lots of cops, lawyers, and librarians who would be happy as clams to advise you on whether or not your character meets the verisimilitude test.
1) An NPR Saturday Edition (8/25/12) interview “For Writers, The School Of Hard Cops” with Crime Writers Consultation made me wonder if real police officers “learn” how to be cops from TV cops the way some ordinary folks think one can learn court civil and criminal procedure from watching TV
2) While wandering the Multnomah Central Library shelves one cold, rainy afternoon not long ago, I came across this book: “Just the facts, ma’am : a writer’s guide to investigators and investigation techniques,” by Greg Fallis, Writer’s Digest Books, c1998.
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It has been said that most lawyers are frustrated writers, but, as has also been said, so are most writers.

Frustrated writers will know about Anne Lamont’s “Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life,” which is a title more metaphorically-melodious than the prosaic “Blog-post by Blog-post: instructions on writing …” (which isn’t really metaphorical at all), but … whatever works for you. Blog-post by Blog-post(ing) may do the trick and here are some tips:

How to Blog a Book.

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If you are very lucky, you learn something new every day:

1) Did you know there was a Center for Plain Language? What might they do?

In a nutshell: “The Center for Plain Language wants government and business documents to be clear and understandable.” (Don’t we all!)

2) Also, do you remember the wonderful reference book, “Encyclopedia of Associations“? Well, it’s online now (and has been for some time) and probably at your public library (e.g. through the WCCLS, though you will find it under the new name, “Associations Unlimited”).