How To Write Good English
Copywriting – Copy-editing – Proofreading – Web content – Ghost writing
Though the internet would have been classed as science fiction in those days, this business has its origins in 1885 when Archie Kenyon was born in Wray, near Lancaster. Mass communication at the time was the sole preserve of newspapers: radio didn’t arrive until at least thirty years later and television was not generally available until the early 1950s.
Archie was a lifelong journalist, starting on the Gloucestershire Echo before progressing to the Yorkshire Post. In 1943 he was elected President of the National Union of Journalists and was President of the International Federation of Journalists from 1939 to 1946.
He was my grandfather, my mother’s father, and I’m mighty proud of him. If I have an aptitude for writing, I inherited it from him. Though a dreadful pedant (what writer isn’t?), his goal was clear communication before all else. He simply believed that you could not get a clear message across unless the spelling, punctuation, grammar, and syntax were faultless. Any failings in those areas would annoy the educated reader and distract them from what was being said. What he would have made of txt spk I can’t imagine.
At the notional age of 134, his involvement in the business today is pretty much hands-off, though his influence is as strong as ever. I often close my eyes and ask for his advice. Spiritually, it’s still his business, even though I do all the work.
For myself, Martin Helm, I just love writing. I’m almost as big a pedant as Archie, though I recognise that ‘educated’ means something quite different nowadays.
Writing good English isn’t always easy, but perseverance rewards you with a fluent style.
Good English may be harder to write, but it is definitely easier to read.