Because Nothing's More Sordid Than Elevating Your Diction

Friday, March 14, 2008

Add some oomph to your questions? Phrase them as statements. Don't let anyone think it's an interrogative until the bitter end. In speech this is easy--you can just switch your tone on the last word. In writing it can be more difficult because the question mark is easily spotted. But in writing you can pull off what you can't in speech.

For example, the innocent query, "Do you have my copy of The Crucible?" transforms into the vicious accusal "You have my copy of The Crucible?" simply by omitting "Do." This would require a rather harsh contraction of the throat to exclaim, but written it's chillingly effective.

Further omissions add a greater sense of urgency that unnerves your respondents. Relish the fright and confusion they would suffer were you to violently scream at them "The Crucible?" The implication of obviousness in its brevity should alienate your victim enough to agree with any follow-up demands, too!

So remember: You spell "interrogative" without "interrogate"?