Stephen Minch's Writing Advice

Discuss the views of your favorite Genii columnists.
Bill Duncan
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Re: Stephen Minch's Writing Advice

Postby Bill Duncan » August 23rd, 2015, 1:44 am

Jack Shalom wrote:For written English, there's nothing wrong with "s/he" IMO.


Well, there's the part where it's a sexist joke... but apparently it's so visually jarring most don't notice that.

performer
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Re: Stephen Minch's Writing Advice

Postby performer » August 23rd, 2015, 6:57 am

Writing technical explanations of a magic trick can be quite difficult and is a completely different kettle of fish from writing other kinds of things. I think Harry Lorayne is probably the best at this for readability and most importantly clarity.

However, I just read this from Jack Shalom's blog:

"Here is one sentence one might find in a magic book: ‘Pick up the deck with your right hand, and place it into left-hand dealing grip.’ Minch suggests this sentence is more effective if written, ‘With your right hand, pick up the deck, and place it into left-hand dealing grip.’ Not only does the second version avoid an ugly dangling phrase, it delivers the reader information in the most useful order.” [italics mine]"


I dunno about this. Maybe it is just the way my own brain works but I FAR prefer the first sentence. It is slightly easier to comprehend and less dull to read. It helps you to do things in the proper order.

I find a lot of magic literature, especially biographies to be lacking in soul and humanity. Just a dull recital of fact after fact. No humour, no personality - just the facts. Facts can be interesting in themselves but I think you need more than that.

That is why I found the William Lindsey Gresham biography of Houdini far more readable than any of the other versions.

Mind you, you don't want to go to the other extreme and have no depth at all. A happy medium is the best way, I think.

Jack Shalom
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Re: Stephen Minch's Writing Advice

Postby Jack Shalom » August 23rd, 2015, 8:07 am

Just for the record, that passage, as I mentioned in the blog post, was a quote from Eric Mead's Genii review. I think he and Minch are correct. In this case, the most important thing for someone following along with a deck of cards in hands is to get the order of operations right. When the brain is involved with a physical task, we tend to read phrase by phrase rather than a sentence at a time. That, I believe, is why Minch's sentence is better in this case.

performer
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Re: Stephen Minch's Writing Advice

Postby performer » August 23rd, 2015, 8:13 am

Maybe they are correct -but not for me. I tend to think rather slowly when reading instructions. Just knowing straight away I have to pick up[ the deck in my right hand works better for me rather than having to think of two things at once.

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magicalaurie
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Re: Stephen Minch's Writing Advice

Postby magicalaurie » September 8th, 2015, 10:30 pm

I like and use "s/he".

performer
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Re: Stephen Minch's Writing Advice

Postby performer » September 8th, 2015, 10:43 pm

I usually say "he or she". Mind you it is sometimes hard to tell the difference nowadays.

Jack Shalom
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Re: Stephen Minch's Writing Advice

Postby Jack Shalom » September 14th, 2015, 12:52 pm

From THE ONION:

"4 Copy Editors Killed In Ongoing AP Style, Chicago Manual Gang Violence

NEW YORK—Law enforcement officials confirmed Friday that four more copy editors were killed this week amid ongoing violence between two rival gangs divided by their loyalties to the The Associated Press Stylebook and The Chicago Manual Of Style. “At this time we have reason to believe the killings were gang-related and carried out by adherents of both the AP and Chicago styles, part of a vicious, bloody feud to establish control over the grammar and usage guidelines governing American English,” said FBI spokesman Paul Holstein, showing reporters graffiti tags in which the word “anti-social” had been corrected to read “antisocial.” “The deadly territory dispute between these two organizations, as well as the notorious MLA Handbook gang, has claimed the lives of more than 63 publishing professionals this year alone.” Officials also stated that an innocent 35-year-old passerby who found himself caught up in a long-winded dispute over use of the serial, or Oxford, comma had died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound."

Jack Shalom
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Location: Brooklyn NY

Re: Stephen Minch's Writing Advice

Postby Jack Shalom » November 1st, 2015, 11:07 pm

Here's a fun read. Compare and Contrast:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Manual_of_Style


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