Talking Chairs
delete

How busy should writers and editors be?

As the December holidays approach, it’s now even easier to fall into a trap of being too busy. It’s the trap in which “busy” is the default response whenever you ask someone how they’re doing, even if it’s a result of self-imposed deadlines and activities. Author Tim Kreider most adeptly described this trap in a New York Times opinion piece from 2012: “Almost everyone I know is busy. They feel anxious and guilty when they aren’t either working or doing something to promote their work. They’re busy because of their own ambition or drive or anxiety,...
delete

15 language and literary facts to liven ...

You made it through Thanksgiving without having an awkward conversation about politics or witnessing your in-laws have a meltdown over pumpkin pie. But now it’s December . . . all those holiday office parties, neighborhood get-togethers, soccer team potlucks to navigate. What — if anything — is it “safe” to talk about? How about language? Below are 15 little-known facts about the English language that can liven up a dull conversation or steer a volatile exchange into calm waters. The English language has 1,100 different ways to spell its 44 distinct sounds,...
delete

Punctuation — making it up as we go

The world of style and usage can feel like the Wild West. Nouns becoming verbs and literally not meaning literally add to writers’ confusion—along with cooked-up punctuation marks such as the interrobang. The interrobang, The Guardian reports, is a non-standard punctuation mark—?! or !?—used at the end of a sentence that asks a question in an excited manner; expresses excitement or disbelief in the form of a question; or asks a rhetorical question. Here are a few examples: You’ve written a hot bestseller and quit your day job?! The IT department said “no”...
delete

8 ways PR pros can remember names

Would you rather write your next article on a typewriter — or go to a networking function and try to remember the names of everyone you meet? Pass me the bond paper. I’m horrible with names. I shake hands with someone, the person says his or her name and within 10 seconds I’ve forgotten the moniker. It doesn’t matter if I’m meeting a new neighbor or my counterpart at one of our competitors—the name does not stick. As PR and communications professionals, we know the importance of building rapport and maintaining relationships with clients. It’s not always easy...
delete

9 gift ideas for readers and writers

Now is the perfect time to find a gift for the writer or bibliophile on your holiday shopping list. Surprise the person in your life who silently corrects your grammar and argues heatedly (and correctly) that “log in” (as a verb) is two words and not one: Give them a present that promotes their linguistic prowess. Here are eight ideas: 1. “Word Ways: The Journal of Recreational Linguistics” I subscribed to this journal as a birthday present to myself and have not been disappointed. Each quarterly issue features word games, puzzles, proofs, cartoons and more. You...
delete

There’s a word for that?

Considering that there are an estimated 250,000 distinct English words, those who love to write about words have a plethora of material. Favorite articles I’ve written include words that describe words, confusing word pairs and words that make writers swoon. Let’s continue our exploration of that linguistic trove and look at terms that make us say, “There’s a word for that?” (Definitions below are from Oxford Dictionaries Online, World Wide Words, Dictionary.com and Merriam-Webster.) Abibilophobia: The fear of having nothing to read. If I can’t get to the...
delete

50 alternatives to the word “disas...

In this exponentially long election cycle, we’ve heard it all — especially with regard to rhetoric. Bluster, braggadocio, misstatements, lies, deflections, words that aren’t words, and mixed and mangled metaphors have littered the messages with which we’ve been bombarded. One word stands out as having been flung around the most: “disaster.” Over the past 16 months, this word has been tossed around more haphazardly than dirty clothes in a dorm room. It’s been so overused that it’s lost its meaning. The English language offers a multitude of alternatives to...
delete

11 of literature’s best closing li...

First sentences can make or break even the most brilliantly crafted article. Lead sentences are often the deciding factor in whether readers keep reading. This is why we writers struggle so desperately to find the perfect opening lines. Closing lines are a different story. They’re not nearly as troublesome for corporate communicators—but in fiction, an author’s final lines can provide closure, leave readers hanging or take the story in an entirely new direction. For inspiration, here are a few outstanding closing lines from literature: 1. “But, in spite of...