About Marcia Riefer Johnston

Author of "Word Up!" and "You Can Say That Again"

Put the customer first in your sentences (courtesy of KnowledgeOwl)

In May, at the Write the Docs conference in Portland, I did something I had never done: I led an unconference session. That’s a small, casual, hey-anyone-want-to-talk-about-xyz? session that happens around one of many tables in a big room separate from the official conference talks. No stage. No microphone. No video camera. If you want to do an unconf on Tuesday… Continue reading

“I Used to Be an Ex-Manager” and More Than over 1100+ Other Redundant Phrases

Dip in to this list anywhere, and give your inner editor’s funny bone a tickle. Take “hurriedly scurried.” Or “moral high horse.” Or “live studio audience.” “Old codgers.” “Old coots.” “Old fossils.” “Old ruins.” “Commonly available general knowledge that anyone would know.” I don’t make this stuff up. Bonus: Smiling at redundant phrases sharpens your writing. Warning: These things are addictive. Continue reading

Be-Verb Bumper Stickers Make a Comeback

A car pulled up next to my Prius at a stoplight in downtown Portland. The driver opened her window and asked, “What does your bumper sticker mean?” Through my passenger window, I told her that it means to look for verbs like “is” and “were” and “are,” and then consider how you might reword to make the writing tighter and more impactful. “You made my day,” she said. Continue reading

Hemingway’s Style and Today’s Business Writer

My commitment to writing traces back to the moment I discovered “The Hemingway Reader.” It’s one of the books I’d grab if our house were on fire. The observations and excerpts in Charles Poore’s foreword have shaped my writing efforts in journalism, playwriting, fiction, poetry, technical writing, marketing writing—every kind of writing I’ve ever done. Continue reading