In a pun-soaked teaser to an update on the Serena Williams debacle from over the weekend, CNN’s Kyra Phillips just said:
Tennis superstar shows contempt of court. Now Serena Williams is going to have to pay for her verbal volley. Was she over the line?
I know how tempting it can be. I could pun the pants right off ya. But really, show a little restraint.
Maybe this would be a good time to review some basic writing rules. This list, in various forms, has made the writer rounds for years; certainly any journalist has been read the liturgy once or twice. Here’s a good version of it:
1. Verbs has to agree with their subjects.
2. Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.
3. And don’t start a sentence with a conjunction.
4. It is wrong to ever split an infinitive.
5. Avoid clichés like the plague. (They’re old hat)
6. Also, always avoid annoying alliteration.
7. Be more or less specific.
8. Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are (usually) unnecessary.
9. No sentence fragments.
10. Contractions aren’t necessary and shouldn’t be used.
11. One should never generalise.
12. Don’t use no double negatives.
13. Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.
14. Eliminate commas, that are, not necessary.
15. Never use a big word when a diminutive one would suffice.
16. Kill all exclamation marks!!!
17. Use words correctly, irregardless of how others use them.
18. Use the apostrophe in it’s proper place and omit it when its not needed.
19. Puns are for children, not for groan people.
20. Proofread carefully to see if you any words out.
Note, the Unhappy Mediator is a dedicated subscriber to usage rules — but also believes that (pardon the cliche (pardon the cliche)) rules are made to be broken. That is, when I’m doing the breaking.