Screen Shot 2015-06-12 at 3.41.26 PM
2

Clickbait Tactics Drive the Writing of Headlines on ABC News

I probably should not be surprised, but when I saw this run of several headlines on the ABC News website, I was struck by how deliberately uninformative they are. I added some useful information that could have been in the headline. A print journalist writes a headline for someone who’s already holding the newspaper, so giving away the actual news in the headline won’t lose a sale. But a link…

Screen Shot 2015-06-02 at 2.56.35 PM
4

The “Best” E-mail Signature Is Actually the Worst

I have no particular opinion about how to close an email. I just checked my “outbox” and I see that I haven’t closed any of my recent messages. Several were responses to requests from other people, so “Thank you” would be out of place, and even “Here you go” would be so unnecessary it would sound awkward (if not rude). When closing an email, I usually just stop writing. A…

Zimmer-articleLarge
6

This Is Your Brain on Writing

When I teach creative writing, I notice that novices frequently write as if describing a what a TV screen would show if a camera had zoomed in for a close-up of their narrator’s face. By contrast, an experienced writer would rely on a much wider range of storytelling techniqes, including dialogue and interior thoughts. “What do you mean?” I say, my brows furrowing in confusion. “Hold on,” says the old man.…

image

Unless Buzzfeed-style Clickbait Replaces all Forms of Human Communication, or Republicans Return to the White House, Listeners will Continue to Deal with the Smug Dread Generated by the Formulaic Endings of NPR Stories

I love some good meta. I wrote a dialogue-heavy short story about writing dialogue-driven short stories. Mark C. Marino wrote this excllent MPR-style essay about the formulaic endings of NPR stories, which are designed to leave you feeling smarter but emptier, so that you return to fill your pledge-drive mug with another dose of Third World Problems angst. And although I cannot answer that question, one thing is for certain:…

Screen Shot 2015-04-27 at 5.35.23 PM
25

What Can You Do With An English Degree? | Seton Hill University

One of our seniors interviewed recent graduates for her Honors project. It’s all too common for English majors to hear “What can you do with an English degree?” from well-meaning relatives and friends, implying that the most viable career for an English major is that of a “starving artist.” So what can you do with an English degree? Well, it turns out, you can do a lot of things. Seton…

image
3

What Part of “No, Totally” Don’t You Understand?

English continues to evolve. I noticed this construction several times today. “No, totally.” “No, definitely.” “No, exactly.” “No, yes.” These curious uses turn “no” into a kind of contranym: a word that can function as its own opposite. Out of the million-odd words in the English language, perhaps a hundred have this property. You can seed a field, in which case you are adding seeds, or seed a grape, in…