Clear Writing (what a difference a word makes!)

I read a terrific mystery novel last week. I was so caught up in  the action, and the characters were so alive for me, that I hoped (and still do) that the author managed to retain movie rights.

Imagine how frustrated I felt when I came across the following sentence, which totally baffled me:

Under an old umbrella with a broken rib, Allison hurried back to the house.

“I don’t recall that Allison broke a rib,” I thought, and quickly flipped back through the pages, searching for the scene that I had apparently missed.

I never found that scene, and after re-reading the sentence that had stumped me, I realized my mistake: Allison didn’t have a broken rib. The umbrella did!

Now, I can well imagine that this was perfectly clear to you all along. But people such as I need extra attention, not only from those who give us directions and offhandedly declare with great certainty, “You can’t miss it,” when we usually do miss it, but also from writers and editors.

So, when you sit in front of your computer or put pen or pencil to paper, please carefully review every word in every sentence for anything that could possibly be misleading. Even then, you will certainly miss something. But do your best.

One last thing. If I had written the mystery sentence, I would have put it something like this:

Under an old umbrella that had a broken rib, Allison hurried back to the house.


Tara Treasurefield
Tara’s Writing Studio


About 123clear

I translate foggy information into plain English.
This entry was posted in clear thinking, word usage. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Clear Writing (what a difference a word makes!)

  1. Farrhad A says:

    This is an awesome post Tara. I am glad I landed on this page.

    I too though that Allison had a broken rib =P

    I have included this post in my list here:

    • 123clear says:

      Thank you for your kind note, Farrhad. I am very happy that you like this post. Writing it was fun for me.

  2. Jonathon Ako says:

    Thanks for Clear Writing (what a difference a word makes!) | Writing Tips
    Appreciating the commitment you put into your website and in depth information you present.
    It’s great to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t
    the same out of date rehashed information. Excellent read!
    I’ve bookmarked your site and I’m including your RSS feeds to my Google account.

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