Monthly Archives: July 2014

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Computer difficulties have interfered with my ability to make the usual posts. Also, I will be away from my computer this weekend. Please expect a resumption of posts shortly. Apologies to all of my followers for this interruption. Thank you for understanding. Arnold Regardie.

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Adding Sound and Color To Your Writing – Still A Viable Concept

Over a year ago I wrote about adding sound and color to your writing. It still makes sense today. For those of you who missed that blog, here is what I wrote:

Clear writing requires a writer to have command of words and use of proper syntax. Both are essential to become an accomplished writer. Syntax is defined as the orderly, logical sequence of words to have maximum effect on the reader.

To me however, syntax is indistinguishable from sound and color. I cannot conceive of a situation where a writer can have good syntax and not have sound and color. For this reason sound and color have no such ready definition as syntax does. These elements of writing depend on the writer developing a feel, an ear, for his writing. For most writers, this only comes with time and experience. So, how do you know when you have it?

The ability to develop sound and color in your writing really depends on how well you apply yourself to the task of writing. I have consistently stressed my belief that clear writing is an art form, which can be attained with constant regular practice. It is only through the pursuit of this undertaking that you will come to recognize your voice as a writer.

It is hard to add sound and color to your writing unless you know what it is. The rhythm of your writing will reflect its sound and color. Listen to your writing as you write, then revise it to achieve effective rhythm. This means choosing words that fit in well with surrounding words. Jerky or monotonous sentences lack sound and color.

For example, the following sentence is repetitious and somewhat monotonous:

He was an exceedingly orderly company commander. When promoted, he became an efficient regimental commander.

Improved version:

As a company commander, he did things by the book; as a regimental commander, his efficiency was unsurpassed.

In the following example, sentence fluency has been hampered by excessive modification:

The man in the car opened the
door quickly and went hurriedly
into the restaurant.

Improved version:

The driver quickly abandoned the
car and vanished into the restaurant.

There are two ways to know when your writing has sound and color. First, you will feel it in your writing; the second, a bit more objective, a reader will remain fixed on what you have written and then compliment you on it.

The late William Manchester was a superb writer; the pages of his writing full of sound and color. His biography, “Winston Spencer Churchill, The Last Lion – Visions of Glory: 1874-1952”, Dell Publishing, 1983, speaks for itself. The following passage, (p. 7), is illustrative:

“Men who think of themselves as indispensable are almost always wrong,
but Winston Churchill was surely that then. He was like the lion in Revelation, ‘the first beast,’ with ‘six wings about him’ and ‘full of eyes within.’ In an uncharacteristically modest moment on his eightieth birthday he said: ‘It was the nation and the race dwelling all around the globe that had the lion’s heart; I had the luck to be called upon to give the lion’s roar.’ It wasn’t that simple. The spirit, if indeed within them, lay dormant until he became prime minister and they, kindled by his soaring prose, came to see themselves as he saw them and emerged a people transformed, the admiration of free men everywhere.”

Adding sound and color to your writing doesn’t apply to every writing project. It may not fit at all into, say, a simple job application. But the experience of trying to add sound and color to your writing will help you acquire an ear for your writing, that sense of knowing the power of your words. It will help you to write more efficiently and more clearly.

As has been oft-mentioned in my book “The Art of Clear Writing,” (available on amazon.com through kindle books and in print), clear writing is not easy. But the point bears emphasis. It takes work, lots of work. That’s the surest way, however, to improve the clarity of your writing. I’m reminded of books I’ve read about trying to hit a golf ball or a tennis ball. There’s only so much reading you can do before you actually go out and swing a gold club or a tennis racket. So it is with writing. Mastery of the guidelines and techniques explained in my book will go a long way to improve the clarity of your writing, but you still have to write to achieve maximum effect.

Copyright © 2013. Arnold G. Regardie. All rights reserved

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Filed under active voice, clear writing, good diction, sound sentence structure, tips for good diction, Writing Improvement

Free Enterprise – The Key To Reducing Unemployment

I am in the business of network marketing, a business which can be very rewarding depending on one’s dedication. The other day a speaker at one of our regular weekly meetings, a marvelous speaker by the way and one who has been eminently successful in the business, talked about slavery. The speaker, an Afro-American, likened people who are stuck in present day economic ruts to those who were once bound in involuntary servitude. It was a profound message. Those who put their minds to it were able to escape slavery. Those who have the right mindset can escape unpleasant present day circumstances.

The key is mindset, which can be the answer to the economic doldrums of many Americans today. To put it another way, financial freedom can be had by those who are willing and determined to get it. I am a strong believer in capitalism, bolstered by free trade. It may not be a perfect system but it has resulted in unparallelled economic growth for the United States. To be a successful entrepreneur is to know and enjoy the life most people only dream about.

Today’s economy is struggling, beset by overly big government and an administration in Washington that simply doesn’t understand business, to put it mildly. It is an administration which believes that government can solve all, or at least most, problems. It is the wrong approach. The emphasis should be on reducing the role of government in everyday life and encouraging individualism. Successful entrepreneurs should not be punished by excessive regulation and confiscatory taxes. In California for example, a new corporation must pay a minimum of $800 in franchise taxes, whether successful or not. This is one of the reasons California has become known for an unfriendly business climate.

But despite the struggling economy, there are still rewards to be had, opportunities to be pursued. This was the point of the speaker I referred to above. Many people simply accept present day circumstances without really trying to find a way out. They are “slaves” to a situation they don’t enjoy. Obstacles can be overcome, and there are obstacles in every walk of life. But there are also results which reward those who persevere many times over. As part of my business, I read about success stories every month in the magazine I get as part of my business, stories that come from all over the world. People overcome incredible hardships once they put their minds to it.

I believe network marketing provides an opportunity to take yourself out of the ranks of the unemployed or underemployed, if that’s where you are, and to “promote” yourself to a position to secure your financial future. Don’t let the lack of money stop your mission in life. I got into the business to help a family member improve his circumstances. I was well past normal retirement age when I signed up, but I’m a firm believer in the old adage, “better late than never.” So its not too late, or too early for that matter, to get started.

At a business convention I attended recently, Donald Trump was one of the featured speakers. Among other things, he said that he wants to see America great again. Amen to that! But also, importantly, he emphasized that mindset is important, vital, to success. Do not quit. Be tenacious. Make up your mind you’re going to succeed. Every person living in this great country and enjoying its many freedoms has an obligation to make it better, to give something back. You can do your part by helping yourself, and others, to a happier life.

Copyright 2014. Arnold G. Regardie. All rights reserved.

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Filed under active voice, clear writing, good diction, sound sentence structure, tips for good diction, Writing Improvement

An Immigration Update – Bill O’Reilly’s Take

I’m a long time follower of Bill O’Reilly on Fox News and find his reporting usually to be in depth, factual, and concise. Recently he suggested that viewers check out his suggestions to solve the immigration crisis as found on his website, BillO’Reilly.com. I did that and found many of his suggestions to have some merit. Here is a sampler, mixed in with some of my own thoughts.

Much of the problem lies with the failure of President Obama to be preprared for this crisis. He has had five and one half years to get his act together on this as well as other problems and has done virtually nothing. Mexico itself is a primary issue. Tougher policing of that country’s northern and southern borders would be a first step. Increased surveillance by Mexican police and military forces on the southern borders would help to stem the flow of would be illegal immigrants from Central America on their way to the U.S.

The same steps should be taken to help secure Mexico’s northern border with this country. The U.S. should have sent national guard troops to the border long ago. Apparently the president is now moving in that direction. Also, the U.S. should send patrols by U.S. aircraft into Mexican airspace to target activity by cartels and smugglers.

The trouble with these steps is getting Mexico’s cooperation and that perceived difficulty, in my opinion, is because Mexico is still fighting the Mexican-American War, i.e., there is lingering great resentment towards the U.S. over how the war ended. Remember that in the Treaty of Gualdalupe-Hildago, signed in 1848, Mexico ceded to the U.S. huge amounts of territory which now comprise California, Nevada, Utah, most of Arizona and New Mexico, and parts of Colorado and Wyoming. But the threat of trade sanctions against Mexico would certainly get that country’s attention.

As concerns the illegals presently in the country, O’Reilly advocates having them register at the nearest post office within three months with name, address, and birth date. Failure to do so would be a felony, justifying deportation in and of itself if convicted by a special immigration court. Registration would result in the issuance of an ID card which would be used to apply for a work permit. Registrants unable to find work would be deported, as would be criminals, addicts, etc. Those desiring citizenship would have to get in line behind all others. Entitlements would be denied to illegal aliens although their children would be eligible to receive benefits. This is not amnesty but a vetting process. A hard working, honest individual should be able to find a place in this country but there is no guarantee.

Illegal immigration is a huge, complex issue and there are no easy answers. But these suggestions outlined here would be a productive start.

Copyright 2014. Arnold G. Regardie. All rights reserved.

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Filed under active voice, clear writing, good diction, history, sound sentence structure, tips for good diction, Writing Improvement