How to Become a Professional Writer

A step-by-step guide to the basics of becoming a published writer (Republished from 2010) Do you write, even if just for your own pleasure? Congratulations: You are already a writer. But perhaps you are thinking about taking it a step further, sharing your work with others, getting published and establishing yourself as a professional writer. […]

How to Pitch an Article to an Editor

Pitching an article to a magazine, newspaper or website can be daunting, especially if you’re still early on in your freelance writing career. But here’s the thing to remember: The editor doesn’t know you’re scared. She only sees what you allow her to see. Be bold and confident, and you’re in the running for a […]

On Passive-Aggressive Wikipedia Edits

The silly but much-cherished rule of never using the grammatical passive in writing has bred some strange notions of what exactly the passive is. To some, “passive” apparently means “any construction that twists the grammar of a sentence so badly that it sounds instinctively wrong to just about everyone.” That would certainly seem to be […]

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 […]

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 […]

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, […]

Common Errors in Writing: The Dangling Participle

Dangling participles have, in my opinion, at least two major claims to infamy. First, the phrase is by far the funniest in the writing and editing rulebook. Whenever I hear or read it, I want to say, “Don’t look now, but your participles are dangling.”┬áSecond, dangling participles are perhaps the most common grammatical error I […]