William Safire


American Author, Columnist, Journalist, Lexicographer and Presidential Speechwriter, Awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom

Author Quotes

Fumblerules: Remember to never split an infinitive.
A preposition is something never to end a sentence with.
The passive voice should never be used.
Avoid run-on sentences they are hard to read.
Don't use no double negatives.
Use the semicolon properly, always use it where it is appropriate; and never where it isn't.
Reserve the apostrophe for it's proper use and omit it when its not needed.
Do not put statements in the negative form.
Verbs have to agree with their subjects.
No sentence fragments.
Proofread carefully to see if you words out.
Avoid commas, that are not necessary.
If you reread your work, you can find on rereading a great deal of repetition can be avoided by rereading and editing.
A writer must not shift your point of view.
Eschew dialect, irregardless.
And don't start a sentence with a conjunction.
Don't overuse exclamation marks!!!
Place pronouns as close as possible, especially in long sentences, as of 10 or more words, to their antecedents.
Hyphenate between sy-
llables and avoid un-necessary hyphens.
Write all adverbial forms correct.
Don't use contractions in formal writing.
Writing carefully, dangling participles must be avoided.
It is incumbent on us to avoid archaisms.
If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is.
Steer clear of incorrect forms of verbs that have snuck in the language.
Take the bull by the hand and avoid mixing metaphors.
Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky.
Never, ever use repetitive redundancies.
Everyone should be careful to use a singular pronoun with singular nouns in their writing.
If I've told you once, I've told you a thousand times, resist hyperbole.
Also, avoid awkward or affected alliteration.
Don't string too many prepositional phrases together unless you are walking through the valley of the shadow of death.
Always pick on the correct idiom.
"Avoid overuse of 'quotation "marks."'"
The adverb always follows the verb.
Last but not least, avoid cliches like the plague; They're old hat; seek viable alternatives.

Never use a long word when a diminutive one will do.
Employ the vernacular.
Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.
Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are unnecessary.
Contractions aren't necessary.
Foreign words and phrases are not apropos.
One should never generalize.
Eliminate quotations. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "I hate quotations. Tell me what you know."
Comparisons are as bad as cliches.
Don't be redundant; don't use more words than necessary; it's highly superfluous.
Be more or less specific.
Understatement is always best.
One-word sentences? Eliminate.
Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake.
Go around the barn at high noon to avoid colloquialisms.
Who needs rhetorical questions?
Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.
Capitalize every sentence and remember always end it with a point.

Decide on some imperfect Somebody and you will win, because the truest truism in politics is You can't beat Somebody with Nobody.

In the United States today, we have more than our share of the nattering nabobs of negativism.

She would take it and perform a typographical miracle. It was like looking at an E. E. Cummings page.

To communicate, put your words in order; give them a purpose; use them to persuade, to instruct, to discover, to seduce.

Do not be taken in by 'insiderisms.' Fledgling columnists, eager to impress readers with their grasp of journalistic jargon, are drawn to such arcane spellings as 'lede.' Where they lede, do not follow.

Is sloppiness in speech caused by ignorance or apathy I don't know and I don't care.

Sometimes I know the meaning of a word but am tired of it and feel the need for an unfamiliar, especially precise or poetic term, perhaps one with a nuance that flatters my readership's exquisite sensitivity.

To ''know your place'' is a good idea in politics. That is not to say ''stay in your place'' or ''hang on to your place,'' because ambition or boredom may dictate upward or downward mobility, but a sense of place -- a feel for one's own position in the control room -- is useful in gauging what you should try to do.

Ears are sloppy and eyes are precise; accordingly, speech can be loose but writing should be tight.

It is in the nature of tyranny to deride the will of the people as the voice of the mob, and to denounce the cry for freedom as the roar of anarchy.

Stop worrying about the 'dumbing down' of our language by bloggers, tweeters, cable-heads and MSM thumb-suckers engaged in a 'race to the bottom' of the page by little minds confined to little words.

Today, war of necessity is used by critics of military action to describe unavoidable response to an attack like that on Pearl Harbor that led to our prompt, official declaration of war, while they characterize as unwise wars of choice the wars in Korea, Vietnam and the current war in Iraq.

A book should have an intellectual shape and a heft that comes with dealing with a primary subject.

English is a stretch language; one size fits all.

Knowing how things work is the basis for appreciation, and is thus a source of civilized delight.

The CEO era gave rise to the CFO (not certified flying object, as you might imagine, but chief financial officer) and, most recently, the CIO, chief investment officer, a nice boost for the bookkeeper you can't afford to give a raise.

Took me a while to get to the point today, but that is because I did not know what the point was when I started.

A reader ought to be able to hold it and become familiar with its organized contents and make it a mind's manageable companion.

For the sake of the country, the conservative cause, the Republican party and even his own long-term career -- he ought to resign.

Never assume the obvious is true.

The first ladyship is the only federal office in which the holder can neither be fired nor impeached.

We are all environmentalists now, but we are not all planetists. An environmentalist realizes that nature has its pleasures and deserves respect. A planetist puts the earth ahead of the earthlings.

A reader should be able to identify a column without its byline or funny little picture on top purely by look or feel, or its turgidity ratio.

Have a definite opinion.

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American Author, Columnist, Journalist, Lexicographer and Presidential Speechwriter, Awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom