Monday, July 23, 2012

Questioning the questioners

Here’s an article teaser from a few weeks ago:

On June 27, a 7-year-old girl named Heaven became another grim statistic in Chicago’s skyrocketing murder rate. Can anything stop the violence?
When I first read the question, my editing instincts kicked in immediately and I thought to myself, “Well, of course nothing can be done to stop the violence, not completely. Violence has existed as long as man has.”
Limit the violence? Reduce the violence? Sure. Those are acceptable words and questions.
Two lessons:
1.     Words, such as “stop” in this case, have meanings. Don’t rely on “close enough” or “the readers will get what I mean” or “it was meant to be a rhetorical question.” Write or say exactly what you mean and you won’t have to worry if your readers will “get it.”

2.     Don’t ask meaningless questions, such as questions to which everyone knows the answers.

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