The Red Jacket Diaries blog

Sue Horner is a freelance writer in Oakville, Ontario, who blogs about writing, newsletters, communications and running an independent business in The Red Jacket Diaries blog.

Is it time to put a stake in ‘stakeholder’?

The well of BS is endless, as a new Twitter connection observed about business jargon this week. During the exchange, the word stakeholder came up. Fans find it a useful word describing people with an interest in something, an expansion of the original shareholders who had invested money in a business to include employees who […]

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Rhyme and rhythm: Musicians know how to write

If you’re looking for writing inspiration, here’s an idea: Turn up the tunes! Musicians do a masterful job of touching our hearts and souls, and sometimes our funnybones, too. Artists tell stories using many of the more traditional writer’s tools for expressive writing, such as metaphors and similes. One that always sticks in my head […]

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Sigh. Still reason to be cranky about jargon

Time to get cranky, again, about jargon and annoying words. Who’s with me? First up are overused words that are quickly becoming jargon: Hacks. I get it, it’s a handy short word, which is useful in headlines. In most cases, it’s thin disguise for “tips,” as in “23 best productivity hacks of the year.” Killer. […]

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‘Man-hours’? The hunt for inclusive language continues

The phrase stopped me in my tracks. “Man-hours.” I was interviewing a client’s internal expert, a man, talking about a recent maintenance shutdown. When he mentioned how many “man-hours” were involved, I asked if his crew was all men, and he said no, there were a few women. Pointing out that I, too, was female, […]

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Undies and tushes and butts, oh my

You have to joke when it comes to talking about a disease that affects your butt. That means there are no sedate names for the 5K events raising awareness of colon cancer and money for colon cancer research and support. Nope, we’ve got the Undy Run, raising money for the Colon Cancer Alliance in cities […]

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Good dog! 7 tips that apply to pets and people

I’ve been walking my neighbour’s two dogs at lunchtime, to cover while his daughter is away. Logan and Norman are relatively big black dogs, like my guy was, and they were good pals with him. So while I’m helping my neighbour out, I’m also getting a little “dose of dog” to ease the pain of […]

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3 ways to spark interest with expressive writing

Have you ever been urged to “show, don’t tell” in your writing? Then you want to think about expressive writing. For a compelling example of the power of language, take a look at this fascinating piece about earthquakes by journalist Kathryn Schulz in The New Yorker. This is just one of many, many places where […]

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Find the heart of your story with these questions

What I write for employee newsletters and other content often involves explaining dense, complicated and potentially boring subjects. Yet a client once paid me this huge compliment: that among my strengths is the “ability to find the human angle in any story.” In fact, that’s the secret to turning a potentially boring subject into an […]

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Show some love for neglected expressive words

What knavery is this? With so many words at our disposal, we’re ditching some perfectly delightful and expressive words. Wayne State University, for one, is having none of it. Each year, the university’s Word Warriors column lists the top 10 words “that deserve to be used more often in conversation and prose,” drawing attention to […]

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Another odd book title wins cheeky contest

At a time when attention spans are shorter than ever, a long-running quirky contest fits right in. Yes, I’m talking about The Bookseller’s Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title. “We don’t judge books on the contents within or even by their covers, but by their purest, quickest and shallowest way possible: from the title,” says […]

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