Monday, June 16, 2014

In praise of formulaic writing

Do you use formulas when you write?

The knee-jerk answer is "no!" You're creative, original, inspired... and in denial.

Formulas rock. And if you are inspired, original, and creative, you can use them to rock your readers' world.

The caveat, of course, is that you must have a unique story to tell. Or an unusual, captivating point of view. Or a twist. Or - marketing types take note - something truly new to say.

Rock on.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Clothing Sizes and Other Problems Writers Can't Solve

Thank you, Fitbay. Thank you for tackling one of the great first-world problems of our time: clothing sizes.

Yes, of course I mean women's clothing sizes. Really, if you can wear Dockers to work every day, you don't have a problem. At least, you don't have a problem getting dressed. While I'm sorry to set the women's movement back a hundred years or so, I'll say it: when you're a girl, sometimes solving the what-to-wear-to-work conundrum is the greatest challenge of the day.

Go ahead, guys. I'd love to hear you explain the difference between Junior, Misses, and Women's sizes. ... What's that? I can't hear you.

FitBay aims to fix all the sizing nonsense with an app (of course) and in the process, the company also
Funny essays on parenting, life, dogs, and other things I don't understand
came up with a practical use for the selfie. Can a Nobel Prize be far behind?

The first round of VC (about $2 million) should help us all move closer to a more comfortable waistband and find a stylish sleeve in which to muscle our way to the top. Which would be so much better than having to muscle our way into said top.

I suspect the company will need a huge influx of cash before it takes on the shoe sizing situation. Until then, happy shopping. Er - I mean, back to work.

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This isn't the first time I've written about the devastating state of women's clothing sizes. My first essay on the subject is included in the 2014 collection, Dumb Things We Say to Dogs.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Okay! or not OK? Either way, I love a good word origin story

I love, love, love this CBS broadcast about the history of the word Okay. OK?

Speaking of a storied past, a list recently circulated by a friend (thanks, Lisa!) highlights the history of several other words and phrases that could contribute racist undertones to everyday speech. While communication is always improved by using the just-right word (meaning, consider connotation and denotation), I think there's something else to point out:

Often, a word's origin is a solid hook on which to hang a history lesson.

Now that school's out for the summer, why not delve into a few moldy old words and see what you can dig up about the past? It could put a whole new spin on your communications.

Avoid Marketing Communications Missteps 

This belongs in the Well, Duh column, but is worth mentioning: When you're updating your company website, managing a corporate blog or social media campaign, or involved in any marketing communications activities, you'll certainly want to watch your words and know their histories. I love to say it, because it's so true: words should work for you, not against you.

Word Wayback Machines

Word origin teasers from Oxford Dictionaries
The history of Call Me Maybe, and what's a photocopier?
Etymonline had me at "wheel ruts" of modern English