William Safire — The Fumblerules
The original Doubleday book cover (1990)
A "fumble rule" is a self-referential, self-contradictory rule for writing, or rather a rule for not writing. Originally assembled by William Safire in his "On Language" column in The New York Times (4 November 1979), they also were published in book form as Fumble-Rules: A Lighthearted Guide to Grammar and Good Usage (1990 & 2002), and reissued as How Not To Write: The Essential Misrules of Grammar (2005). These rules appeared as shown here in at least one of those sources, some were slightly modified and some were unchanged in all four. I should note that in some cases the sequence may have been meaningful in the original, the system here enforces alphabetical order. Note that Safire did not say to never observe these rules, rather he felt that a writer should know them well and, on rare occasions, follow them for effect.
Biography from Wikipedia
William Safire — The Fumblerules quotes:
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- A writer must not shift your point of view. permalink
- Also, avoid awkward or affected alliteration. permalink
- Always pick on the correct idiom. permalink
- And don't start a sentence with a conjunction. permalink
- Avoid commas, that are not necessary. permalink
- Avoid overuse of 'quotation "marks."' permalink
- Avoid run-on sentences they are hard to read. permalink
- Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky. permalink
- De-accession euphemisms. permalink
- Do not put statements in the negative form. permalink
- Don't overuse exclamation marks!!! permalink
- Don't string too many prepositional phrases together unless you are walking through the valley of the shadow of death. permalink
- Don't use contractions in formal writing. permalink
- Don't use no double negatives. permalink
- Eschew dialect, irregardless. permalink
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