There are no tricks in good writing

Here’s a link to the article under discussion today: Apple Is Getting Desperate in the Mobile Arena – PCWorld Business Center (via Gruber)

“In short, Apple may always have its share of fans among consumers who don’t mind living in its “walled garden,” but there’s no way it can compete in the market as a whole with the diverse, compelling and powerful platform that is Android.”

Okay, anyone who knows me will know how wholeheartedly I disagree with this statement. I think iOS is the most advanced computing platform on the planet. And I consider my iPhone the most important piece of technology I’ve ever owned.

But that’s not what really bothers me about this quote. What bothers me is the closing phrase “… platform that is Android.”

Oh, nothing gets my hackles up quite like lazy and uninteresting writing. And phrases like “that is X” just epitomize lazy, uninteresting writing.

Inverting the sentence structure isn’t necessarily grammatically wrong. And I wouldn’t really be coming down with my grammar hammer if it was a faulty construction. What bothers me about this construction is that it uses a cheap trick to add unmerited weight to a statement.

If, in this example, Android is a diverse, compelling and powerful platform (which, I’ll grant, it is), simply state it. If you want to state it forcefully, do so. But when you are making your argument, fight fair. Use the real tools of the writing trade — imagery, metaphor, well-chosen words and turns of phrase.

The primary goal of all writing is communication. Playing with sentence structure is a shortcut that ultimately undermines communication. When I take the time to read someone’s writing, I’m making a commitment. What I ask in return is that the writer engage, entertain and inform me.

Reading and writing are ways that human beings connect with each other. We exchange ideas, share passions and debate points of view using these written words as our instruments.

Writers must respect this connection.