This question and observation is about a sentence in a New York Times breaking news story relating to the Boston Marathon bombing last week.
“The suspect at large had been identified earlier in the day by F.B.I. officials as suspect No. 2, pictured in photos distributed by the agency wearing a white hat.”
The question is was it the photos or the agency that was wearing the white hat?
Photo from Cardcow.com with over 400,000 vintage postcards.
wearing the white hat?
Photo from piperbasenji.blogspot.com
The observation is… we all got it… the white hat was worn by suspect No.2. The sentence worked. We understood.
The purpose for bringing this up is to help you overcome the number one block that stops most people from writing.
Many who want to write, hesitate because they fear making a mistake. If you write, I promise… you will.
The NYT lead mentioned here is a perfect example…. the perfect news… up to the moment…. vital information and the entire nation had a huge interest. In the rush to get this news out quickly the English “a bit slipped”.
I know from experience that plenty of readers will send that writer snide remarks like… “Who is wearing the white hat?”
The paper should be thanked and congratulated yet there is an element of humanity who love to criticize.
Some criticism is good. It keeps us on our toes. Winston Churchill, a great writer with many critics, made a comment about this; “Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfils the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.”
He also pointed out the importance of not getting too caught up in putting form over function when he wrote: “Ending a sentence with a preposition is something up with which I will not put.”
In other words put function over form. If you communicate the information…. you have completed 95% of the job. The remaining 5% is of minor consequence. In fact to err is to be human and in this day and age when big government and big business are so suspect… being human actually gives an edge. Big, slick, perfect and institutional have become suspicious. Small human and authentic are good.
The goal of this message is to help you stop worrying about errors when you write. The only true error is to do nothing. The path of perfection is cobblestoned with a foundation that is cemented in errors.
Negativity can only be balanced by positive action… so to become a great writer… you must write..
Write. Earn. Make a difference.