Five Points of Lewisism

Five points from C. S. Lewis on writing essays.

    1. Always try to use the language so as to make quite clear what you mean and make sure your sentence couldn’t mean anything else.
    2. Always prefer the clean direct word to the long, vague one. Don’t implement promises, but keep them.
    3. Never use abstract nouns when concrete ones will do. If you mean “More people died” don’t say “Mortality rose.”
    4. In writing, don’t use adjectives which merely tell us how you want us to feel about the things you are describing. I mean, instead of telling us the thing is “terrible,” describe it so that we’ll be terrified. Don’t say it was “delightful”; make us say “delightful” when we’ve read the description. You see, all those words (horrifying, wonderful, hideous, exquisite) are only like saying to your readers “Please, will you do my job for me.”
    5. Don’t use words too big for the subject. Don’t say “infinitely” when you mean “very”; otherwise you’ll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.

Taken from, Letter from June 26, 1956, quoted in Wayne Martindale and Jerry Root, eds., The Quotable Lewis (Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale, 1989), 623.

HT: R. Scott Clark


Avoiding Plagiarism Like the Plague

Plagiarism is a growing problem both domestically and internationally. Even more so in circles it should not, namely seminary education. The word plagiarize is defined in Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (10th edition) as

“to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one’s own.”

Plagiarism can take one of two forms: intentional or unintentional. When a writer knowingly uses other authors’ works without providing appropriate reference citations, he or she is intentionally plagiarizing. If, on the other hand, a writer uses others’ thoughts or ideas and does not realize that credit must be provided, he or she is guilty of unintentional plagiarism. Unfortunately, both types of mistakes can result in serious consequences. Here is a helpful remembrance,

It is incumbent on the writer to be forthright and honest with regard to using original and/or existing writing. Plagiarism can be easily avoided if the writer simply provides appropriate credit when borrowing ideas or citing directly from another individual’s work.

**Quote taken from Houghton, Peggy M.; Houghton, Timothy J. (2008-12-18). Turabian: The Easy Way! (Kindle Locations 213-215). Baker College. Kindle Edition.