Let's talk about writing, more specifically economical writing.
Let's talk about economical writing.
Deidre McCloskey's little book on #EconomicalWriting is fantastic!!!
See my top takeaways from the book below
1. 'economic models are economic poetry' (18)
some economic arguments are a series of analogies, just like poetry. Realise it. Use it to your advantage. It can make your writing more persuasive.
2. Find outline or arrangement of ideas that fits your argument.
Write notes in paragraph form (1 idea per paragraph, it doesn't have to be longer than 1 sentence). Print them out and cut up paragraphs. Rearrange on floor or table until the arrangement seems right.
3. Changing the font can make you look at your writing in a completely new light.
It can help you edit more effectively.
4. At the end of each writing session (whether you're interrupted or not) write down where you're at and where you're going. Write it in bullet form or sentences. The exercise will save you so much time when you start another writing session.
5. NEVER start a text with "this paper/thesis/chapter."
Start with what you're going to say in a simple and concise way.
I have actually noticed how books do this.
My thesis currently starts like this:
6. Don't write a roadmap paragraph at the end of your introduction. Section/chapter 1 will do this, then section/chapter 2 will do that.
I didn't understand, however, how else to make the path clear to the reader from the get go. If anyone has any advice, I am all ears!
7. "what spoils academic writing is lack of confidence" (41)
I realised my lack of confidence early on in my PhD, which made/makes me use pompous words to make me sound more scientific. I have yet to find a solution to becoming more confident. Experience does help, though.
8. "A writer must entertain if she is to be read" (43)
As Solow once said, economists need to realise they're organising thoughts on economic life and not (poorly) imitating physics.
9. Paragraph and sentence structure needs to be clear.
"It doesn't matter what your first sentence is. It doesn't matter what the second is. But the third damn well better follow from the first and second" (51)
10. Each sentence has 3 parts: subject, verb & object.
Never elaborate on more than one at a time.
10 contd. For example:
"A sentence with too much in all three of its parts can ruin a paragraph:"
"["A sentence with too much in all three parts"] connected to a simple verb ["can ruin"] and simple object ["a paragraph"]" (54)
11. Write in complete sentences.
As if the sentence could stand alone as an isolated remark.
12. Avoid elegant variation - i.e. overly using a thesaurus (like Joey in friends youtube.com/watch?v=9s0LqZ… - gets me everytime)
Say development if you mean development.
Ask yourself if you've used words to mean one thing.
13. Your writing should be understandable and leave no room for misinterpretation.
16. Put important remarks at the end of sentences, things that come second in emphasis at the beginning and things that don't really matter in the middle.
Don't just put ideas at the end of sentences. Start a new one.
17. Replace all "is" with active verbs.
When editing circle all "ises" to see how many you have.
Removing "is" requires the sentence to have a subject, there is no escaping it. That is a good thing. Most sentences should have a subject.
18. Words to avoid: via, the process of, intra/inter, and/or, hypothesise, respectively, this, at least minimal, process of, thus, overall, basic factor, the existence of, former/latter, plus, aforementioned, fortunately, interestingly, words with -ly at the end
18 contd. Via can be replaced with by.
Examine and discuss is better than analyse (analyse actually means cut to pieces in Latin).
The use of "due to" means the sentence is badly constructed. Rephrase.
19. Use concrete words.
e.g. rather than technology mention the actual technology such as a sewing machine.
Singular words are better than plurals.
Don't codify your language.
Simplify - be plain. Use everyday language.
20. If you need italics your sentence needs rearranging to place emphasis where it should be. Remember the most emphasis is on the last part of the sentence.
21. Don't justify your paragraphs/lines (align your right margin in). It makes some lines look odd.
22. Circle "this"/"these" in your text. Then get rid of them. You don't want readers looking back to figure out what it is referring to. You want your readers to follow the forward flow of your argument.
A plain "the" will do or repeat the word represented by "this"
23. Ask yourself if your sentences are literally possible.
Can numbers influence policy makers? NO
Models cannot be severe.
Find better words and sentences to make yourself absolutely clear.
24. Remember that "good writing is difficult" (89) but "fluency can be achieved by grit" (20). Sitting down to write is difficult but as McCloskey says in her humoristic way: "Sneak up on it and surprise it with the ancient recipe for success in intellectual pursuits:"...
... "locate chair; apply rear end to it; locate writing implement; use it"
The little book (89 pages to be exact) actually made me laugh. Several times. I highly recommend it.