Dear Reader (especially self-monitoring readers overjoyed that Ronald Klain has been named Supreme Allied Commander in the War on Ebola. What could go wrong?),
This will be the single greatest “news”letter of all time. It will make you laugh. It will make you cry. Pathos, logos, and ethos will leap into the San Diego Zoo bear pit of your mind and shout “Bear Fight!” When it is over, you will feel like you kissed your long-lost love both goodbye and hello at a Paris train station. You’ll be rested, as if you just woke from a nap by a waterfall using a panda bear’s belly as a pillow. While it’s not true we only use 10 percent of our brains, you will feel like that had been the case up until now. You’ll be able to cook twelve-minute brownies in seven minutes. You will never have to eat kale again. This will make total sense to you. Suddenly, whether asked to train cats to use a human toilet or use a semicolon correctly, you’ll say, “Of course, a child could do it.”
Now, even grading on my own curve, this was a remarkably stupid paragraph to write. The first rule of writing is “Sacrifice a bull to Crom before you start typing” (“Is that what we’re calling it now?” — The Couch). No, the first rule of writing is that there is no first rule, save perhaps “Always write in the language of your intended reader.”
(I mean, if I wrote this in Esperanto or Iroquois I’d lose a lot of you pretty quickly. But I believe good writing — like good jokes and good food — is whatever works. But some kinds of writing are riskier than others, which is why my Epic Poem (So epic I needlessly capitalized both “Epic” and “Poem”!) about the cancellation of Firefly molders in my desk drawer).
In fact, the reason that first paragraph was so dumb is that it violated a rule that transcends even the obscure-rightwing-free-“news”letter industry. No, really.
That rule is: Never overpromise. The common phrasing is “never overpromise and under-deliver,” but under-delivering is almost inherent in the word “overpromise.” It’s not an overpromise if you fulfill expectations. In other words, managing expectations is really important.
Read complete article via Putting the ‘O’ in EbOla | National Review Online.