On most Fridays, Evan Peterson rounds up five stories from across the Web that scribes of all stripes should check out.
Adjectives are incendiary and untrustworthy—the worst, ever.
This week, the founder of the Buffer app argues that writers need to watch out for this figure of speech. But as you can probably guess, they’re often unavoidable. (See lead sentence.)
Plus, self-published authors are making some decent cash on the side, getting to know baseball terms, the lexicon of Roger Ebert, and more.
The words that matter most:
Hidden in this psychological examination of how to best convey language in a conversation is a valuable reminder about the power of words in writing. Writing for the Lifehacker
blog, Leo Widrich, the founder of the Buffer app, says, Adjectives “are, in fact, one of the worst elements of speech and even make a listener or reader lose trust.” To bolster his argument, Widrich borrows from writer Kim Peres: “When someone ‘stabs’ a straw into their drink we see it, but ‘pokes swiftly’ is not so clear.” The next time you're arguing about which adjective to use in a piece of branding copy, remember, the right answer might be neither one.
Let's face it. Most writers have dreams of succeeding in an artistic field like fiction or film. Hugh Howey writes at Salon
about several scribes who are making it happen through the magic of self-publishing. Howey mentions writers earning between $500 and $13,000 per month from books they wrote— in addition to their full-time jobs as non-writers. The bad news is that there are still no guarantees of financial success. The good news is that the chances of supplementing your income by writing is a real possibility, even if you get only a few bucks.
A new baseball season is as good a time as any to explore the origins of some of baseball’s commonly used phrases. At the Columbia Journalism Review
, Merrill Perlman does just that, sharing the origins of words such as "southpaw," "bullpen," and "bunt," among others. But remember, use these terms only if you're writing about baseball.
Writing to survive:
Novelist Aleksander Hemon has a new book of essays about the difficult events in his life that influenced his writing—many about fleeing his native Bosnia and not being able to return. The pain and experiences in writers' lives obviously vary greatly, but it seems the more difficult the situation, the more the writer has to tell. Hemon's essays suggest that maybe the best inspiration for writing comes from our worst experiences, or at least the uncontrollable events that shape our lives.
Ebert's Movie Lexicon:
As good writers develop, they often abandon proper language in place of phrases and words—sometimes invented—that communicate an idea more clearly than had they followed grammar rules. Roger Ebert was great at this, creating phrases to capture some of the frequent implausible moments and clichés in movies. Visual Thesaurus put together a sample from Ebert's "Glossary of Movie Terms" including “fruit cart!,” “seeing eye man,” “myopia rule,” and “rising sidewalk.”
Evan Peterson is a writer based in Chicago, and the editor of OpenMarkets magazine at CME Group. He's on Twitter at @evanmpeterson.