Triple the butter: A plain English approach to recipes

My bread, with triple butter I’ve been doing some comfort baking – a spicy, oaty sweet bread topped with rosemary-infused syrup Delicious! But when I put my dough aside to rise, I discovered I’d used triple the required butter And that got me thinking about how the recipe’s construction encouraged me to make the mistake Recipe reading needs reasonably high literacy Good recipe writing requires a thoughtful understanding of how readers interact with the text while they’re...

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Inside the Rosie Scott Writer's Studioe

Thanks for the gift of writing time

The gift of time to write is a peculiar thing It’s an astonishingly precious gift: time away from the routines and stresses of everyday life; an opportunity to be immersed in a calm environment that’s purpose-built for writing; normal work cleared to give time to concentrate on one project; time for the things that are most difficult to find – silence, calm, thoughtfulness But it’s a gift that comes with a huge helping of reality Being given time to write hasn’t suddenly made...

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Death of a typographer cover

Graphic design that makes reading a chore

When I heard about Nick Gadd’s book ‘Death of a typographer’, I could scarcely contain my excitement What could be better than a detective novel where the main character solves typographic crimes This isn’t a review of the novel itself, which I found to be a light-hearted, easy read even if some of the typographic content seemed a little self-conscious Once I realised that I shouldn’t take the novel too seriously, I enjoyed being taken for a typographic ride But I found the...

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Apostrophe Protection Society t-shirt

Would you like an apostrophe with your coffee’s?

I notice apostrophe errors Like many writers, I silently correct greengrocers’ apostrophes and misplaced possessives, and I put reasonable effort into making sure I dont make the same mistake’s myself I’m the proud owner of a t-shirt promoting the Apostrophe Protection Society Like many word-lovers, I was disappointed this week to hear the Society is closing Apparently its 96-year-old founder, John Richards, admitted defeat, claiming that ‘the ignorance and laziness present in...

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Using email to get the job done

My working day is centred around email I use email for client conversations, project quotes, project delivery, and invoicing Even though I like to meet clients face-to-face whenever possible, it’s not uncommon for me to conduct entire projects by email Email makes work communication easier and faster Because of its asynchronicity, I no longer need to worry about telephone tag and missed calls I also spend a lot less time travelling to meetings I can read and respond to email when it suits...

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A roadmap for writing

‘Write Away’ by Elizabeth George You’ll often hear writers talk about the value (or lack thereof) of planning Some writers (like James Patterson) are dedicated planners who write extended plot outlines Others (like Lee Child) claim to fly by the seat of their pants and be consistently surprised by the twists and turns their stories take Of course there’s no right choice between the planner vs pantser approach to writing Each writer needs to develop their own...

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On being a word nerd. A word nerd, I be.

I’ve just finished reading ‘The story of be: A verb’s-eye view of the English language’ by David Crystal (2017, Oxford University Press) Until I discovered this book, I hadn’t given a great deal of thought to the humble word ‘be’ In writing training, I advise writers to avoid over-using ‘be’ My concern is that ‘be’ in its various forms weakens their writing Instead, I suggest they look for ways to introduce action into their work For example, I might...

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Being specific with modifiers

I’m often troubled by vague modifiers (things that describe something else within the sentence) Here’s an example, a caption in today’s Weekend Australian: Geraldine Hakewill stars in Ms Fisher’s Modern Murder Mysteries, a spin-off from the Phyrne Fisher series set in 1964 The problem here is that a naïve reader can’t understand whether the original Phyrne Fisher series was set in 1964 or whether Ms Fisher’s Modern Murder Mysteries is set in 1964 The sentence doesn’t...

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Break at your own risk: Genre conventions and why we need them

My attention has been side-tracked recently by two real estate signs that break conventions Both left me wondering what the agency was trying to achieve Are they clever attention grabbers or misguided mistakes The Watch this Space sign featured outside a neighbour’s house for almost two weeks Each time I passed Watch this Space, I wondered whether it was a For Sale sign with a rather-too-clever play on words for Space Agency Or was it something else Perhaps the house was not yet on the market...

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