rebelling against low expectations

24 Tips For How To Write Good (Like Me)


[silliness]Alex and I have been barraged with requests to share our writing secrets. What makes The Rebelution one of the easier reads in the blogosphere? Why do words flow from our fingers like water from a punctured water bottle?

Today, we share these secrets. The truth is that Alex and I are no more than the beneficiaries of an anonymous word wizard. His wisdom we share with you today in hopes that excellence in writing will spread to all corners of the globe.


1. Avoid alliteration always.

2. Prepositions are no words to end sentences with.

3. Avoid clichés like the plague.

4. Employ the vernacular ad nauseam.

5. Eschew ampersands & abbrev., etc.

6. Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are unnecessary.

7. It is wrong to ever split an infinitive.

8. Contractions aren’t acceptable.

9. Foreign words are not apropos.

10. As Emerson said, “I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.”

11. Comparisons are as bad as clichés.

12. One should never generalize.

13. Don’t be redundant; it is highly superfluous to use more words than necessary.

14. Be specific, more or less.

15. Understatement is insipid.

16. Exaggeration is infinitely worse than understatement.

17. One word sentences? Simple. Eliminate!

18. The passive voice is to be avoided.

19. Bad analogies are like feathers on a snake.

20. Even if a mixed metaphor sings, it should be derailed.

21. Who needs rhetorical questions?

22. Colloquialisms are grody to the max.

23. Abjure polysyllabic obfuscations.

24. Finally, chech for pselling errors and typeos.

There you have it! 24 principles that are sure to improve your writing. Follow them faithfully, our dear readers, and maybe someday you will write rules of your own.[/silliness]

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About the author

Alex and Brett Harris

are the co-founders of and co-authors of Do Hard Things and Start Here. They have a passion for God and for their generation. Their personal interests include politics, filmmaking, music, and basketball. They are both graduates of Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, Virginia.


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  • With advice like that you have the world writing good more quicker than you can shake a stick. (Or click a mouse.)

    Eew I better stop. I’ll have DSS knocking on my door for failure to educate myself before educating my children. Oh wait, I was public schooled they can’t beat me up too badly.

  • Mr. Bloom: Thank you, sir. We’re honored by your encouragement.

    Spunky: I love expressions like “more quicker.” They’re so much more better.

    Jeremy: Thanks, Jeremy! We usually don’t add blogs until they have demonstrated consistent quality over a longer period of time. We don’t want our sidebar linking to “dead” (or soon to be “dead”) blogs. Keep working and you’ll get on there.

  • Thanks for those…um…interesting guidelines. 😀

    Very informative!

    Oh, and make sure you know that all generalizations are false. 😀

  • … a kind soul handed this list to me in college, and it has always been a good checklist; except the list I was given started out with “your reader lacks intelligence, therefore…” :/

  • Very funny! Only it should be “write well.” Good is an adjective, whereas well is an adverb, modifying the infinitive verbal to write. 😀

    I know you guys know that. . . .

    I enjoyed it very much! I do editing work for a friend’s newsletter, so I will definitely keep these tips in mind. 🙂

  • Thanks for making me laugh, guys!

    Although I am new at posting here, I’ve been a regular reader of your blog for quite awhile now, and I am so thankful for the wonderful example you are setting for teenagers (and non-teenagers, like me 😉 ) everywhere.

  • Heh…that was kinda funny. 😉 Although, I don’t really use too many rules when I write; I just do it. After reading a lot of books, good writing becomes simple imitation of the greats.

  • That was so entertaining! Have you gentlemen read
    “Elements of Style,” by Strunk and White? It is an interesting book; he tells you over and over to “eliminate, eliminate your words.”
    I can just imagine him with his glasses in front of a class; a very enjoyable lesson to watch and listen to I’m sure!

  • Shelbi: Thank you for reading, and now, for commenting! Alex and I are truly blessed interacting with and serving (in small ways) all of you.

    JennyAnyDots: No, we haven’t read ‘Elements of Style’ . . . It sounds very educational. Thanks!

  • Hey, umm, do you honestly think that list would or could help anyone write better. Maybe I’m missing the obvious but whoever wrote that sure seemed to contradict himself an awful lot. Example: As Emerson said, �I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.� And then, 11: Never use comparisons. Also that guy said multiple times never be redundant well I think anyone reading that would get his point based on how many times he said it. So I guess I’m just wondering why you would support such a thing by posting it to your blog… Could you explain?

  • Heheheh, time to put that warning back on top of the list.

    This reminded me pleasantly of one of Winston Churchill’s better comebacks. A speech of his was critiqued with an admonition not to end sentences with prepositions. Sir Winston shot back, “That is the sort of errant pedantry up with which I shall not put.”

  • This was indeed a very funny list. It way well be that in writing a blog, these guidelines can help make it easier to read, but as to belles lettres, I wouldn’t follow them 😀

  • Hahahahaha! That’s hilarious! I can’t believe I’m an author and I’ve never seen this list before! Cracks me up! Now, I’m on to read the serious stuff on your blog!
    God bless, Amber

  • I’m afraid my weaknesses consist mainly of paranthetical remarks (and the occasional spelling error). However, I do try my best. It’s difficult not to compare myself to those people who write constantly in chatspeak…

  • The Elements of Style is an excellent book! Between reading that and this list, I’ll really
    know how to write GOOD!!! 😉

  • #23—(am I spoiling the fun?)

    Abjure= To avoid or shun.

    Polysyllabic=long and ponderous words; having many syllables. (more than two or three, to be exact)

    Obfuscations=To confuse, bewilder, or stupify.


    —Avoid long words that have many syllables and confuse people.—


  • Wow, did you look in a thesaurus to find those extravagantly monumental words,
    or is your vocabulary just that big?

  • “Abjure polysyllabic obfuscations”… “Avoid confusing words with lots of syllables”

    I love those weird words! I have learned so many out-of-the-norm words from this website. In one of the archives, I learned the definitions of the words “verbose” and “nebulous”, now I’m learning words like “obfuscations” and “abjure”.


  • Awww shucks, no parenthetical remarks (I love parentheses). 🙂 Thanks for the humorous reminder of how not to write.

  • Your list reminded me of when my father used to tease my English-teacher mother that when she applied for a teaching position she asked, “You don’t know nobody wants nobody to do nuthin’, do you?”

  • I love it.I also love to write stories and essays. For my english i was supposed to write a short story . It may end up a book because Im homeschooled and I can do that.

  • You are absolutly nuts Brett! I really need to work on number 24. I am always pressing the submit button and then realizing that I made a “Typeo”. Oops! I just did number 10.

    Wow. Your mom must be so proud of you using such wonderful (and silly) vocabulary(Oops! Now I used number 6! 🙂 )

    Sarah. 🙂

  • I should email that to my English teacher and tell her that that’s the RIGHT way to do things! She would kill me for it, but I guess that’s just part of the fun. I LOVE things like that!

  • At my school, where they puts emphasis on creative writing, has a strict writing standard. It include:
    A creative title
    An introduction
    Three body paragraphs
    A conclusion
    Eschew contractions
    Third person only!!!
    The english teachers recommend that their student use a more vocabulary words, use qoutes to prove your point, and use the seven sentence openers, which I do not have at the moment.
    It is interesting to note some difference between the writing standards that Brett and Alex use and those used at my school.

  • That’s funny. All pieces like this should be like, totally widely published. Seriously. I will be sure to apply it’s advice to the paper I’m writing for my English class essay.(jk)
    Wow, I’ve already broken rules 6,8,12,13,15,17,& now 5. Some were on purpose, but composing this was fun.
    This list is hilarious!

  • HaHa,
    Love the list!!
    I will definitely keep it in mind while commenting on the Rebelution. ; )
    God loves a cheerful giver and I know this was given cheerfully!
    God Bless!

  • Hi. I am Raine, 18, from the Philippines. Your ministry to stand up for the faith has greatly blessed and inspired me. God bless you! And what a very useful article! I have blundered in nearly all of the 24 writing tips =( I shall always keep them in mind.

  • I’ll have to try that.
    I think though that for some of it I might need a dictionary!

    (Abjure polysyllabic obfuscations)

  • Wow that was hularious! Too bad I had to look up half the words in there in my dictionary. Oh well, thanks for the awsome post. 😀

  • HA HA! That was HILARIOUS! I had to look up some of the words but I now understand all of them. I printed this out for future reference. Thanks guys!

  • That was really funny, thanks for the advice. I had to look up a lot of words because my English is not very good- it made it more funny that way though. Can I be added as a rebelutionary?

  • One thing I appreciate so much about both the forum and the blog post conversations is the fact that teens are stepping up to the plate and expressing themselves both with grammatical correctness, but also with eloquence. This is another stereotype for teens in our culture…we’re dumb ignorant jerks who can’t put together a good sentence to save our lives. Simply not true! Thanks, Harris brothers, for the book, the blog, and the online community.

    By the way, the post was hilarious.

  • That last one makes me laugh!

    24: Finally check for pselling errors and typoes.

    LOL pselling instead of spelling! i do that a LOT! 🙂

  • Wow Hannah, that was funny! A little crude at times, but other than that, funny!

    Thanks for the list guys! I am forever making writing errors. Maybe this will help
    me remember some of the rules! 🙂

  • i really like the article its very interesting and i will follow most of the advise with my own additions of course like the addition of excluding exclamation points all together and adding them on the end its a fun way to write if you ever get bored which of course you never do because you read the other article on boredom but if you ever do try it


  • oh. Wow. English teachers everywhere think you need to go back to school. Ha!!!! I do agree with the words. Now I don’t think anyone can write as well as you! HAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • That was hilarious! It absolutely made my day. I think this proves just how amazingly well you guys write; writing a list like this certainly takes talent! 🙂

  • Thanks for another essential posting. Where else could everyone get that kind of information in their normal complete way of crafting? I have a demonstration incoming week, and I am searching for such information.

rebelling against low expectations

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