The Writing Beat: Hacks, Reviews, and Commentary about Writing

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Rodolfo Llinas of NYU

Scientists fit the stereotype of brainy figures with a penchant for abstraction. Medical researchers study microscopic processes that require special tools and powers of deduction—abstract stuff for anyone. But researchers at New York University’s Langone Medical Center say complexity requires […]

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Today is Black Friday, the annual festival of camping outside places like Target and Walmart, pushing and shoving for position at the checkout counter, and cutting off drivers in traffic to gain a 20-foot advantage in traffic. But why Black? […]

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On this date in 1863, Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address, the greatest oration in American history. In 262 words, Lincoln gave fresh meaning to the Civil War and redefined America. He honored the nation’s founders and the soldiers who […]

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El•e•ment \’e-lə-mənt\ n [ME, fr. AF & L; AF, fr. L elementum] (13c) 1. one of the parts of something that makes it work, or a quality that makes someone or something effective: the heating element of a toaster. Ex.: […]

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Take a look at my review of Walter Isaacson’s new book The Innovators here. While working on the review, I kept thinking about how the lessons of innovation apply to thinking and writing. Some quick thoughts: 1. The Combining Process: […]

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To overcome it, embrace it. —Nietzsche Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere The ceremony of innocence is drowned; The best lack all conviction, while the […]

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“Honey, I don’t think I even want to read.” “You’ll love Mad Men Persuasion.” “You love reading about the best show on television and just want me to do it too.” “Here, I’ve got the site for you.” “What is it?” “It’s Mad […]

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Do punctuation and grammar have a chance in the digital age? I don’t know. But they’re changing, probably faster than ever before. I was amazed, reading Ezra Klein’s Washington Post blog, to find copy littered with donts and shouldnts–contractions without […]

To master writing, first master the core elements. You can find them all here, with case studies from some of the best classic and contemporary writers.
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An excerpt from the recently updated edition of The Big Book of Writing: Carpentry, said Jack McClintock, a writer who chronicled the construction of his own home in Florida, “is largely a matter if getting the sequences right. If you […]

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In a review of Boss in this morning’s Wall Street Journal, comes this description of the Chicago mayor portrayed by Kelsey Grammer: As “Boss” begins its second season, Chicago Mayor Tom Kane (Kelsey Grammer) is on the verge of making […]

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Charles Euchner is interviewed by the Technical Communication Center about writing in different fields, the common rules for all genres, and various inspirations. Charles Euchner, the author or editor of nine books, is the owner and operator of The Writing […]

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The epic saga of America’s greatest tragic hero continues. Robert A. Caro, the Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer of Robert Moses (The Power Broker) and Lyndon Johnson (four volumes and counting) has released his study of LBJ’s humiliating days as vice president […]

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The Writing Revolution — the transformation of the way we communicate in all realms of life — continues. Consider these twelve big developments awaiting us in 2012: A publishing-versus-tablet battle erupts in public education: For years, textbook publishers have been […]

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Remember the old Steve Martin routine about getting small? It’s a great bit spoofing the way druggies giggle and cackle about getting high. I like to get small. It’s very dangerous for kids, because they get realllly small. I know […]

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The tragedy of Joe Paterno is as old as the human experience. The great literary works — from Sophocles and Milton, Shakespeare to Tolstoy, Fitzgerald to Hemingway, O’Neill to Miller — warn us about the dangers of greatness. We need […]

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Charles Euchner talked with the radio talk-show host Michael Dresser, an Alaska-based radio talk show host, recently. Michael’s show has evolved over the years into an entertaining and thought-provoking something for everyone, featuring daily guests from all over the country […]

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To set your hero and other characters on their journeys, know who they are and what they’re trying to do. Know their physical, mental, and spiritual qualities. Learn everything possible about their lives. Then give the reader the most relevant […]

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David Halberstam wrote sprawling books about politics, war, sports, firefighters, mass media, show business, and everything in between. Halberstam looked for the universal in the particular and the particular. His prose sometimes reached. Sometimes he wanted to get dramatic while […]

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In “Wee Small Hours” (Episode 309), Don Draper struggled to please the hotel magnate Conrad Hilton. Hilton was suave, smart, ambitious–and more than a little megalomaniacal. Hilton wanted to conquer the world, bringing his American-style of hospitality everywhere. Conrad Hilton is […]

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In “Love Among the Ruins” (Episode 302), the promoters of the new Madison Square Garden confront opposition to the plans to demolish the old Pennsylvania Station. Don, who has tapped the power of nostalgia and sentimentalism in other campaigns, is equally adept at […]

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By Charles Euchner The American November-December 2008 Late last year, a student at the American University of Paris sent a request to a company called Writerboard. “I have another paper to write,” he wrote in an email. “It’s another art […]

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(This piece originally appeared in The American in January 2008) Looking back, the turning point for the explosive growth of the National Basketball Association was almost certainly the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. Michael Jordan and Patrick Ewing, still […]

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By Charles Euchner Hartford Courant Since the 1960s, Christopher Alexander has been architecture’s greatest iconoclast, calling for a return of building to an ages-old process of construction. Alexander rejects modern architecture not because of stylistic concerns, but because it creates […]

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By Charles Euchner Providence Journal August 31, 2007 Describing the awful wave of crime and family breakdown of the 1970s and 1980s, the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan decried the process of “defining deviancy down,” an insidious spiral of cultural degradation. […]

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By Charles Euchner The American July 20, 2007 In 1984, at the age of 21, Garry Kasparov challenged Anatoly Karpov for the international chess championship. Karpov won the first four games with little trouble. As he faced the possibility of […]

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The Power of No By Charles Euchner  |  The Boston Globe | April 22, 2007 Boston has the reputation of a civic naysayer, with a culture so cranky that good ideas get rejected as a perverse ritual. The political graveyard […]

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By Charles Euchner New York Sun March 30, 2007 When Louis Brandeis rhapsodized about “laboratories of democracy” and Alexis de Tocqueville celebrated pragmatism in local politics, they couldn’t have imagined the arcane arguments over what bats to use in amateur […]

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By Charles Euchner The Washington Times November 11, 2004 Good things, we are told, come to cities that build sports stadiums and arenas. In homes and offices, yards and taverns, fans track the local team’s highs and lows and gain […]

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By Charles Euchner and William Fowler The Boston Globe September 7, 2001 Today is the 371st anniversary of the creation of Boston as a formal political entity. On this day in 1630, the town of Trimountaine was renamed Boston and […]

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By Charles Euchner Boston Herald October 11, 2000 The day of reckoning is coming for students and schools all over Massachusetts. As families await letters with the latest MCAS scores, policy makers, principals, and teachers are scrambling to find ways […]

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By Charles Euchner Education Week May 18, 1983 New York–At a meeting of the New York Academy of Sciences here this spring, Seymour Papert managed to take issue with just about every teaching method that schools use in education–particularly the […]

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By Charles Euchner   Education Week December 22, 1982 Washington–Once each hour at Congress Heights Elementary School, kindergartners and 1st graders gather and neatly put away their supplies in the “Writing to Read Center.” Without instructions, with few words among […]

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