Do you get the syntax attacks? Here’s the cure…

Do you ever get your nouns and verbs and knickers in a knot? It’s surprising how many people do, as you’ll see from this selection of absolute howlers taken from picture captions in one of the UK’s most popular daily newspapers.

But while we have a good laugh at some of these dipsh*t goofs, at the same time we can also learn a few things from them to help us with our own writing.

Syntax writing mistakes on How To Write Better .net

Syntax: what is it and why does it matter in your writing?

Basically (purists: I will apologise only once, OK?) syntax just means the way sentences are formed … and getting your syntax right means your sentences are understandable, and mean exactly what you intend.

This sounds simple enough.

However syntax is very, very easy to get wrong, as this classic caption demonstrates… [Read more…]

Yet more howlers from the Daily Fail

Another bumper lot of howlers from the UK newspaper we all love to hate … enjoy…

Yet more howlers from the Daily Fail

But after tying the knot, Sir Paul’s daughters looked decidedly glum. A lot depends on who they all married, of course. [Read more…]

Want millions of readers? Write like the Daily Mail

Daily Mail,MailOnline,Jackson Rawlings,writing,news,business,blogging

The Mail isn’t exactly renowned for its quality of writing.

It seems there’s method in the apparent madness of what we read in the UK’s Daily MailJackson Rawlings lifts the lid off this controversial Pandora’s box…Sz.

So I’m guessing your initial thought was “why the bloody hell would I ever want to do that?” and I can’t blame you — the Mail isn’t exactly renowned for its quality of writing. [Read more…]

Jackson shares the Daily Mail news as he helps write it

HTWB Jackson small

Jackson Rawlings in his current job: “we have to create content so invasive and permeating that it is consumed everywhere from the train to the loo.”

A big welcome back to our very own Jackson Rawlings (as in HTWB Students writing fame) who has now ascended to dizzy heights in cyberspace, as a Blogger Outreach Specialist at the Daily Mailno less. Our sincere – and very well deserved – congrats to him … and here’s his fascinating account of the brave new world of news gathering, 21st century style…

Marble. So much marble.

That was my first thought as I entered the palatial surroundings of my new workplace… [Read more…]

Daily Wail: FFS get horse jargon right (and dump the ancient clichés)

Daily Mail,horses,jargon,writing,cliches

Suze with a mighty, trusted steed sporting white stripes all over the place,
white ankles to match, cool black leather boots and subtle hair extensions
to enhance its glossy mane.
ZZZzzzzz. (Suze is on the left.)

Being a horsey type I often cringe at the “popular” media’s ideas on how to describe, er, an actress who rides a horse over a few fences. In this particular case, though, the UK’s Daily Mail really does take first prize for the most asinine and ridiculous use of what its writers think is the way to talk about horses.

Needless to say this is not the first time I have ranted on here about the most stupid ways in which journalists mislead and belittle those of us in the horsey world who get increasingly fed up with the old-fashioned clichés used to describe a sports culture which is huge in many countries.

And we’re not talking horse racing or snotty fox hunters here. We’re talking genuine competitive sports – much more intricate and demanding sports – that work for people from right across the socio-economic spectrum.

The vast majority of horse owners in western countries are not rich or privileged. They are working people who often need to sustain two or more jobs just to pay for their beloved horses’ keep, so they can enjoy the camaraderie and opportunities to compete and test their achievements that are out there, now, for everyone to enjoy.

So when we get patronizing, ignorant drivel being published by a so-called “popular” newspaper such as the UK’s Daily Mail that attempts to belittle what the the 3 million or so private horse owners in the UK are doing (plus their equivalents in the US and many other countries) … well, it makes me angry.

To illustrate my points…

Here are a few quotes from a recent article in the Daily Mail about the antics of the undoubtedly equine-friendly actress, Kaley Cuoco, who was photographed putting a nice-looking horse over a few fences the other day. And here, too, are my own growling comments based on quotes from that utterly ridiculous article…

Kaley Cuoco demonstrated her impressive show jumping skills yet again as she saddled up on Thursday. In the UK, and the DM is supposed to be a UK news resource, you don’t “saddle up:” you “tack up.” No doubt the DM is cosying up to US audiences once again.

With her trusty steed apparently out of action, the Big Bang Theory favourite was partnered up with an equally gorgeous chestnut equine beauty with a white stripe on its head, black flanks and white ankles, a long glossy mane and tail. Let’s skip over the “trust steed” cliché for now. But doh … the horse is a bright bay in color, not a chestnut (sorrel in the US) and the “white stripe” is a blaze. Horses don’t have ankles: they have fetlocks. But you got one bit right – they do have manes and tails.

Though her fears are perfectly understandable, especially seeing as she was riding a different horse than normal, not to mention the fact that she broke her leg in an unfortunate riding accident in 2010. Never mind that this sentence is grammatically wrong, she wouldn’t be riding this horse over fences if she was anything other than confident.

Nervous? However, as she approached some of the more challenging barriers, the star wore a look of fear mixed with pure exhaustion on her face They’re fences, not barriers, stupid. And in the photo (can’t share it here because of copyright issues) her facial expression shows concentration, not fear and exhaustion. Get a grip, you media hype-mongers.

She certainly looked the part in her full equestrian get-up, which consisted of dark brown jodhpurs, black leather knee-high boots which were decidedly dusty from the terrain… They aren’t jodhpurs, they’re breeches. The knee-high boots are probably ankle boots with matching half-chaps or gaiters, and of course they look dusty, you nitwit. She didn’t get hoisted on to the saddle by cherry picker so we must assume she walked through some dust to get there. Zzzzzz.

She donned a black helmet as she competed on the challenging course, while she also wore black leather gloves and carried a matching crop. Of course she “donned” a black helmet: not because it was a “challenging course” (it wasn’t) but because no-one other than a utter nincompoop would get on a horse without a helmet.

Back in the saddle: Any nerves wouldn’t be unwarranted, seeing as the star was riding a different horse than usual and the fact that she suffered a broken leg in a riding accident in 2010. Bullsh*t. You don’t jump a horse around a course of fences unless you’re pretty confident in the partnership, whether it’s your usual ride or not. (And don’t be lazy – why not come up with original captions rather than lifting lines out of the body text?)

The back-up plan: The 28-year-old regularly shares photos of her beloved horse Thor, even posting a video just last week of the pair doing some practise jumps, however, the gelding was apparently out of action come Thursday, resulting in this equally gorgeous steed filling in. Gorgeous steed … oh, perleeeze. He’s a nice looking bay horse. Enough with milking a rather weak photo opportunity already. And “steed?” We know the Daily Mail’s main audience is in the age range of 50+ but how many 21st century readers would refer to a horse as a “steed?” How many of them would even know what a “steed” is?

When two become one: The pair looked like they’d been riding together for years, moving in perfect unison, making it over even the trickiest of fences with ease. For starters the pair wouldn’t have been riding together, but never mind that. Much as your writers want to find high drama in this story those fences weren’t high, or tricky. Get a grip and learn what “horse jumping” is really all about.

blog,writing,news,blogging,business,Suzan St Maur,howtowritebetter.net, how to write bettIf you’re a horsey type please comment. And even if you aren’t, please share your views on these awful, groaning clichés that make us all grind our teeth, no matter what our hobbies and activities are!

 

News media: how many steps too far this time?

HTWB News mediaAre newspapers truly getting too big for their boots in an attempt to sell papers in the light of online competition? Here in the UK this week we have been entertained by a raging battle between the current leader of the Labour (leftie) Party and a well known right-wing tabloid newspaper, the Daily Mail.

The mud-slinging started when the conservative DM accused the late Ralph Miliband, father of the current Labour Party leader Ed, of “hating Britain” because he had happened to swear allegiance to Karl Marx (who happens to be buried in England.) [Read more…]

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