Pepsi’s Kola House “experiential lounge” (a bar with extra adjectives)

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The press release for Pepsi’s new bar (oops, I mean “experiential lounge”) shows how you can pump up almost anything with extra fizz. This is fashion. Fashion can’t just use simple words like “blue” and “polyester”; similarly, a fashionable bar talking about drinks would sound boring. So we get “experiences.” Let’s look at some fabulous excerpts. I’ve … Continued

Iowa polls, “expectations” were a pale shadow of the truth

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For months, the political media have had nothing to talk about but polls and expectations. Yesterday reality crashed the party in Iowa, revealing the vacuity of the polls and the “expectations game.” Let’s examine how poll/expectations-based “analysis” differs from reality-based analysis. The polls were totally off Let’s compare two recent Iowa polls, the Quinnipiac poll done Sunday and … Continued

The sublime joy of making a book index

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I love to index books, because it requires intense thinking that’s like writing in reverse. To make an index you must ask, for every passage in a book, “If I were looking for this, what words would describe what I was looking for?” Writing means thinking of an idea and creating content for it. Indexing is the reverse: reviewing … Continued

My inspirations and aspirations

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The people who inspire me share one quality: a commitment to expressing the truth clearly and without fear — and with a smile. Perhaps that explains my current quest. Here are a few in whose footsteps I hope to follow. Isaac Asimov. Asimov’s plain, direct, clever, and idea-filled prose captivated me in adolescence — and I mean his nonfiction, … Continued

Make an Idea Map to visualize your book’s idea flow

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Some nonfiction books just seem to flow naturally from idea to idea. Others seem repetitive — as if the author is just hitting the same idea again and again. An Idea Map can help you visualize your concepts and organize them to avoid repetition. I’m nearing completion on my manuscript for Writing Without Bullshit, and I wanted … Continued

Six short words explain why Donald Trump quit Fox News debate

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The Donald Trump campaign’s 271-word statement about skipping the next debate is short, clear, and free of jargon. But it could have been much shorter, only six words: “I am afraid of Megyn Kelly.” I believe his strategic calculation was that this debate would not help him — people already know who he is — but that tangling again … Continued

What frustrates business writers

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My recent survey of business writers has a text box where people can type anything they want about their writing experience. They’re pretty upset about all the bullshit they have to deal with. Here’s a sample. Each comment includes the information I have about the role and industry of the person who wrote it. I’ve lightly edited the comments for … Continued

1 million blog views: a case study

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This blog crossed 1 million page views this weekend. It got there in ten months of blogging every weekday. Not bad. I try to spend my time looking outward, not inward, but I thought you’d be interested in how I got there. Steady growth with spikes Things first took off in May with one popular … Continued