Tag Archives: writing

save the melting polar bears!

Wait..what? Polar bears are melting? Well, if you say so, Coca Cola..


You know that feeling of shock you get when a big brand does something stupid? You think, don’t they have enough money to throw around to make sure this kind of thing doesn’t happen? Yeah..that.

And you know that feeling of shock you get when you find out white fuzzy cuddly terrifying killer bear things are capable of MELTING? You think, don’t the laws of physics have something to say about this? Yeah..that.

Imagine both of those feelings together, and you’ll get an approximation of my reaction on hearing the soundtrack to the above video, a Coca Cola/WWF charity thingy, asking you to help, and I quote,

save the home of the polar bear, which is melting.

End quote.

Assumptions are never good enough

Yes, yes, I know what they mean. But assuming that your customers will know what you mean when you word something stupidly is just not good enough.

It’s not good enough for Coca Cola, it’s not good enough for WWF, it’s not good enough for anyone who works in advertising or charity.

And it’s certainly not good enough for those fuzzy wuzzy bears, who are pretty genuinely sadface about their home disappearing. Here’s Greenpeace doing it better. Warning: this made me weep actual tears.

homeless polar bear :(((

Am I overreacting? Here’s the thing: Any time your wording causes me to concentrate on the actual words you’re saying, and write a blog post ridiculing them, you’ve just distracted me from your (genuine) cause.

Avoid the smudgy windows

Writer and renowned clever bloke George Orwell once remarked that good prose is like a window pane. When you write, readers should be able to see through your words to the truth behind. As soon as your words jar a bit, it’s like seeing a smudge on a window – you don’t see the view through the window, you see the smudge.

So when you can’t be bothered to sort out the relative pronoun in your sentence, with the result that it sounds like you’re telling me polar bears are melting, my focus has shifted way away from the real problem. And that doesn’t help anyone.

Get your act together, Coca Cola/WWF. The white fuzzy killing machines deserve better.



Filed under how not to write

3 things that are better than a kick in the face

A kick in the face hurts. These things are better than said kicking:

one Mangoes (I heart you forever, friend mango).

two  Cats (the whole of the internet will bear me out on this, so I don’t think I need to do any further justification).

three Getting not only the Very Inspiring Blogger award from Girl in a Basement (thanks Mouse!)..

awards ftw!

..but also the One Lovely Blog award from Olive the People (thanks Olive!)..

awards ftw..again!


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Filed under lists of things

spot the difference! or, how The Economist can’t spell

The Economist Style Guide is a thing of beauty. But more for the book’s content than its cover.


click to embiggen


I checked, and ‘useage’ isn’t an alternative spelling. It isn’t optional. It’s just..how can I put this? Wrong.

And it’s on the front cover of a guide to how to write English. 

And they spell it correctly inside the book.


Filed under how not to write

weapons of mass description

the kind of description you should be writing

This quote is from Foucault’s Pendulum by Umberto Eco, and it illustrates one of the most important things to remember as a writer: DO NOT BORE YOUR READER.

People don’t like being bored. Newsflash! I know. I have literally never heard anyone say ‘I’m sooo bored right now, it’s amazing!’ or even ‘I can’t wait for the meeting on Thursday, I’m going to be so bored!’ 

When you write, people have a choice whether or not to read your output. It’s simple: if you bore them, you’re making that choice for them.

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Filed under how not to write

snow daze and more of the sailor

Oh, I do like to be beside the snowside! No wait, I’m sure that’s not how the song goes..

Yes, I have moved house. Yes, it snowed pretty much all weekend. Yes, that made the whole moving house process somewhat..interesting.

fun times ahead!

Do you see that shape at the bottom right hand corner of the photo? That’s my car, shortly before I removed just enough snow so that I could actually open the doors. Oh, and shortly before it started snowing again, but properly this time. Real snow that means business.

You might have gathered from the above that I was, perhaps, a little annoyed by the snow? Somewhat inconvenienced? Irritated by the white stuff falling from the sky?

Well, you’d be wrong. I’m actually screamingly excited, like a toddler on crack, about the snow. I’m just pretending to be bored and irritated because I’m supposed to be a grown up, and that’s what grown ups do, right? Continue reading


Filed under books