A Report On The Not So Elegant

Old Jobs = New Ideas
January 15, 2017
So You Think You’re Finished Writing Your Novel?
February 15, 2017

A Report On The Not So Elegant

Are you just starting to write your own novel? Maybe you are half way through? Have you been writing every day to finish?

Imagine writing reports for your superiors and not being able to find just the right word for the sentence. Would you just choose the first word that came to mind? Richard T. Puderbaugh wrote a later declassified document in 1993 about how officers use and abuse words while writing reports. Puderbaugh was given the title of “Official Word Watcher for the Division” and was told by his boss, “to collect from all CS (Clandestine Service) communications outstanding examples of elegant writing, and to report upon my research at opportune times so that our writers may be edified and instructed thereby.” Puderbaugh gives some examples in this document of when a report might have needed a little bit more proofreading before being sent in. One example, “Subject: Refutal of rumors regarding a coup.” Puderbaugh goes on to explain just how great the new word “refutal” is because while it is new, it is quite obvious what the writer was going for–something in between refuse (or refusal) and refute. And another, “If the government of Graustark does not box itself in by wrapping the national flag around the training area …” The metaphor of “boxing itself in” is matched with “wrapping the national flag around the training area” to give the mental image of a huge flag being wrapped around a box in which there is a training area. Just take a moment to picture that. As you can see, even highly trained spies and officers can make mistakes ever so often, and that is why there are editors to help your novel become the cleanest, most well-written piece it can be. So, go write (and edit)!

Remember that reading can help spark ideas. Pick up The Right Guard and light your writing fire today!

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