Here is the world according to Microsoft. The spell checker in Word recognizes some people and not others.
Phil Michelson, Donnie Osmond, Alan Greenspan, Steven Spielberg
Jim Jarmusch, Christopher Hitchens, Ron Popeil, Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
No one ever accused Microsoft of having a clue about contemporary culture. I think we might take this list as proof.
Thanks for your cards and letters on agents. Much appreciated. Please let me renew the plea. If you are an agent, know an agent, have an agent, or play an agent on TV, please get in touch with me.
Yesterday, I worked for 6 hours and got 330 words done, that’s 50 words an hour.
Hey, but it’s not the quantity that matters, it’s the architecture of the ideas that matters, right? Oh, please.
But I did make some progress. In addition to finding a place for Phil Michelson, Donnie Osmond, Alan Greenspan, Steven Spielberg, Jim Jarmusch, Christopher Hitchens, Ron Popeil and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. in the manuscript, I figured out why the Michael Mann Version of Miami Vice was a relative disappointment. According to Boxofficemojo.com, this film made $63.5 million domestically on an investment of $135 million. I now have a kind of cultural algorithm that allows us to say why.
The lighthouse sits on Sheffield Island, not far from my home on Long Island Sound. I like to think of it as an early spell checker.
In addition to eagerly awaiting the sentence that combines Donnie Osmond and Alan Greenspan, I greatly anticipate the cultural algorithm than makes sense of the performance of Miami Vice!
Presumably you know the techniques recommended by Sanford Kaye in his great book, “Writing under Pressure: The Quick Writing Process”:
The basic idea is to write top-down, which is contrary to how most of us are taught. Start with draft chapter headings, and then draft section heads, and then draft sub-section heads, and so on until you reach draft paragraph bullets. Then write the easiest paras first, since that way you build momentum. You may have to later rewrite or discard the early paras, but you’ll be well up-and-running by then.
In my consulting life, I write lead-sentence style (aka legal style) — the first sentence of each para is a summary of the whole para. This is also promotes fast and fluent writing since you are forced to write top-down — you have to write all the lead sentences first, to make sure the document flows. IME, business execs much prefer reading this style to any other. Unfortunately, our formal Western education system promotes a contrary, and much less practical, discursive writing style, with the main points either at the end (of the para, the section, the chapter, or the book) or omitted altogether.
Grant, may I reveal my curiosity and ask you what you’re writing? What’s it about and who’s it for? Also, your astute observation about the spell checker in MS Word just sums MS up to me. The dissonance between MS and contemporary culture is very, very real. Just take a look at how they advertise!
Peter, I totally appreciate that the writing style you prescribe (lead-sentence) promotes speed and efficiency. Don’t get me wrong, but in my opinion it often leads to almost mind-numbing texts, utterly devoid of wit and character. Of course, this is perfectly appropriate in certain contexts (there is a reason why it’s also called legal style), and maybe Grant’s manuscript is such a case. But I can’t help but feel that even consulting texts and textual discursions in other fields would stand to benefit in every conceivable way from a more engaging and human tone? After all, they’re all aimed for human beings.
I have a fundamental issue with our education system that promote a rigid and prescriptive ‘ideal’ writing style. To me, there is none. One will have to look at a combination of context and content, as well as have a crystal clear understanding of the reader in order to adapt the style of writing to achieve the objective of a particular text.