1. Exquisite Tweets from @economistified

    Woody_WongECollected by Woody_WongE

    1/ I…I…I taught a mini-course on writing for economists this week and I’m just…tweeting it out (in abridged form, ~50 tweets)

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    2/ Mantra: You are a writer. Who writes about econ. Your final product is your written word. Make it good. It matters. You are a writer.

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    3/ If you write well, you’ll retain more readers, and they will retain more of what you write (to tell their friends)

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    4/ What’s good writing? It’s clear. If it’s clear, it can be concise. If it’s concise, it can be engaging.

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    4/a These goals are not in tension - clarity allows you to deliver more meaning with fewer words, and therefore be more concise.

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    4/b Clarity also helps you keep your reader’s attention.

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    5/ Writing well is hard because you have to imagine (or remember) what it would be like not to know what you already know

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    6/ Many academics are shy about having a point they want to convince the reader of. Having a point seems biased somehow.

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    6/a But you have a point. You’re not going to be polemical about it, but you have a point. Be bold about it. Say it early and often.

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    6/b IMPORTANT: Your point is not that you are smart. If the reader feels dumber than you, you’re probably not writing well.

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    6/c Great writing makes the reader feel smarter, not dumber.

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    7/ Writing well is hard work. If it seems easy, you’re probably doing it wrong.

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    9/ Same idea from author of King James Bible, good writer (be like the author of the King James Bible):

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    10/ We’re gonna have the best words. And then the best sentences. Then paragraphs. Then papers.

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    10/a I will give you general advice, but you’ll learn more in the hours spent reading and editing your own work.

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    12/ Cliches let lazy or mixed metaphors slip by unchallenged. Avoid.

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    13/ Jargon limits your audience needlessly (and often leads to confusion since jargon defns often slip as use spreads)

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    14/ Eliminate the needless phrases that pad your writing, especially those that express only vague relationships.

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    15/ Be as precise as possible. It helps to know shades of meaning that differentiate similar words. (get a usage dictionary to help)

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    16/ Mashing a bunch of nouns together sounds scholarly but is not.

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    17/ You know those Russian novels where every character has like 8 different names? Don’t do that in your econ paper.

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    17/a If you use a different word to refer to the same thing, readers will get confused, since the different word signals a change

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    19/ Remember: You have a point. Don’t be shy about it.

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    19/a (Unless you're just wrong. Sometimes you realize that when forcing yourself to write clearly.)

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    20/ Abstractions sound scholarly, but they are missiles aimed at the reader’s understanding and attention.

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    20/a Recall the section from the King James bible: it’s memorable b/c concrete (“race to the swift”); bad version is all abstract

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