Friday, November 2, 2012

Updating the Rules of Writing a Ron Cook Column

By GTOG Staff

Our very first post here in June 2010 set forth 14 separate rules for writing a Ron Cook column, and an example of those rules in action:  It took only 25 minutes, total, to write a full "Ron Cook column."

So much free time.
Over the course of the past two years, we've slacked off on updating the rules despite some novel rhetorical devices debuted by Cook (including the use of a bullet point to declare: "• Sandusky never will get back his good name.").

Today Cook gave us no choice but to update our list because of the following sequence in this morning's column about the Steelers' decision to not cut alleged drunk-driver, Alameda Ta'amu.
It's hard to believe Ta'amu will get behind the wheel of a vehicle and drive drunk again.
Or is it hard to believe?
In light of this sequence, we adopt the following rule as Rule 15:
15. [Insert statement]. Or is [insert statement]?
Or do we adopt it?

Here is the complete set of Rules for Writing a Ron Cook Column

1. Ask as many rhetorical questions as you want
2. Answer your own rhetorical questions, preferably with as few words as possible
3. Use more one-sentence (or one-word) paragraphs than multiple-sentence paragraphs
4. Add/Subtract/Multiply/Divide things that aren't numbers. Ex. "Marc-Andre Fleury + Evgeni Malkin + Sidney Crosby + Jordan Staal = Stanley Cup"
5. End as many sentences as possible with the following words: though, right, really, you say, I say, too, actually
6. Have a consistent "theme" that occasionally appears throughout the article in italics
7. Start all non-controversial, universally agreed upon points with an affirmative (ex. Yes, Yep, Sure, Of course, Certainly, No doubt)
8. String together consecutive sentences that are 4 words or less. Ex. "Accumulate high draft choices. Make smart selections. Have a little luck."
9. Write sentences without a subject. Ex. "Be bad for a long time."
10. Ask/demand the reader to do the following:
  • Tell you something. Ex. "Tell me something."
  • Ask himself something. Ex.  "Ask yourself something."
  • Think about something. Ex. "Think about this."
  • Remember something. Ex. "Remember?"
  • Not mention something. Ex. "Don't mention ___."
  • Not tell you something. Ex. "You can't tell me that isn't the Big Ten's No. 1 goal." 
  • Not get you started. Ex. "Don't get me started." 
  • Not get you wrong. Ex. "Don't get me wrong." 
11. End one out of every four columns with the phrase, "You don't have to _____ to understand _____."
12. Start three or more consecutive sentences with the same word. Ex. "So smart. So steady. So serviceable." [Note the overlap between rules].
13. Tell the readers something that you just told them that they don't have to tell you. Ex. "I don't have to tell you whom they're laughing at now."
14. Ask yourself for your own opinion. Ex. "Me?"
15. [Insert statement]. Or is [insert statement]?


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