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Writing Is a Craft

My friend received an intemperate email yesterday from someone upset about the editorial policy of an online journal he edits. The writer was irked that the magazine, so he claimed, allowed editors to change an article without the author’s permission. He took offence, declared the policy “barbarous” and announced that he would never submit his […]

Bercow’s Address to Our Kaleidoscope Queen

John Bercow’s speech to Her Majesty the Queen in Parliament yesterday has provoked the ire of the usual suspects. Video of the risible occasion with bonus expert commentary below: This is a land where men and women today are equal under the law and where Your people are respected, regardless of how they live, how […]

Daily Mail ‘Honour Violence’ Headline Smears Young British Muslims

The Mail Online has backtracked on a headline claiming that “two thirds of young British Muslims” support “honour violence.” The information was false. The “two thirds” figure actually related to those who believed in the concept of “izzat,” the concept of “honour” in certain Asian societies. In fact, 18 percent, or less than one fifth, of […]

Book Review: Write to Sell: The Ultimate Guide to Great Copywriting (Andy Maslen)

Andy Maslen gets straight down to the stuff that matters to copywriters in this concise guide to writing words that sell. The author, a successful marketer and copywriter with some 20-plus years in the industry, pitches the book at anyone that writes copy, whether they’re a newbie, a professional writer or a non-writer who has […]

Canada Needs More than a Robocall Investigation

I had hoped to wake up this morning to news from my native Canada that the true identity of “Pierre Poutine” had been revealed. How disappointed I was to read that the saga continues with none of the promised unravelling of this political mystery. Poutine was pseudonym of the man who registered a cellphone during […]

Re: Passive Voice

The author of the very funny Jesus and Mo comic strip read my article about when to use the passive voice, and he sent me this corporate memo in response: To: Everyone employed by this company It has been brought to my attention that the passive voice is being used in cases where it could […]

Uganda, Invisible Children & the Lord’s Resistance Army: Getting the Full Story

A 30-minute video released Monday has already received 37 million views on YouTube alone. That’s as I type this; tens of thousands, perhaps millions more will have seen Kony 2012 by the time this is published. The short film aims to increase awareness of the Lord’s Resistance Army, a guerilla group that began in Uganda and […]

When to Use the Passive Voice

“Never use the passive where you can use the active.” — George Orwell, “Politics and the English Language” “Don’t use the passive voice” has attained the status of divine commandment in the minds of some editors and writers. As with so many supposed rules of good grammar, however, “No passives” is too general and, followed […]

Uproar over Olympics Diversity Questionnaire (or How to Manufacture the News)

Apparently, or so they say, there’s an uproar over a “diversity and inclusion” questionnaire being put to volunteers for the 2012 Summer Olympics. The test has been called (or “dubbed” or “labelled”) “patronising,” and Olympics bosses have “come under fire” and been “slammed” over its content. I first saw the story on Pink News, the […]

Does Writing about Yourself Make You an Egotist?

I’ve written a lot about myself, but often — and my writing probably doesn’t betray this — I’ve felt self-conscious about it. No one writes about himself unless he’s famous or accomplished, or he’s done something no one else has done, surely? The answer to this conflict should have been obvious to me all along, […]