Archives for March 2013


The Joys of Chronology

By Mike Feinsilber

“Once upon a time…” we say when telling a story to a child.

“So a bear walks into a tavern and orders a beer…” we say when telling a joke to a friend.

“I was walking down L Street yesterday and this car comes racing along, going the wrong way, and suddenly…” we begin when relating what we saw yesterday.

These yarns have something in common.  They’re told chronologically. This thing happened, then this, then this.

That’s the way people speak. That’s they way they think. That’s the natural way of relating an event. And that’s the opposite way so much writing—especially so much journalism—goes about telling a story.

On Writing: When Good Enough Is Good Enough

By Mike Feinsilber

Most writers have a shelf of books on how to do it, ranging from the instructive William Strunk Jr. & E. B. White to the inspirational William Zinnser. They all reach for the same goal—How to Write Well, as Zinnser puts it in his title.

Benjamin Yagoda, editor, writer, and teacher, aims lower. His book, How to Not Write Bad, is about how to write good enough.  He compares writing good enough to parenting; even if the kid isn’t perfectly Spocked, he’ll grow into adulthood reasonably well.