Krugman on Writing Well

Every once in a while I get correspondence from someone chiding me for the way I write — in particular the informality. I received one the other day complaining about sentences that begin with “but” or “and.” There is, however, a reason I write this way.

You see, the things I write about are very important; they affect lives and the destiny of nations. But despite that, economics can all too easily become dry and boring; it’s just the nature of the subject. And I have to find, every time I write, a way to get past that problem.

One thing that helps, I’ve found, is to give the writing a bit of a forward rush, with a kind of sprung or syncopated rhythm, which often involves sentences that are deliberately off center.

More broadly, the inherent stuffiness of the subject demands, almost as compensation, as conversational a tone as I can manage.

More here, with credit to Michael Roberts.

Here is more excellent advice on writing, albeit not from Paul Krugman: “25 Things Writers Should Stop Doing (Right F***ing Now),” and “25 Things Writers Should Know about Rejection.” The language is NSFW, but the content is excellent.

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One comment

  1. Jeremy Cook

    But shouldn’t start a sentence.

    However, I was reading The Hunger Games and noted to my wife, who is an English teacher with her master’s, that I thought some of the sentence structure was strange. Her response was that a published writer can pretty much do what he/she wants. In other words, who are we to judge?

    I then happily (and somewhat tounge-in-cheek) reminded her that I do sometimes get paid for my writing, giving me the apparent license to write however I want…