Sin and Syntax: How to Craft Wickedly Effective Prose

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9780767903097: Sin and Syntax: How to Craft Wickedly Effective Prose

Today’s writers need more spunk than Strunk: whether it's the Great American e-mail, Madison Avenue advertising, or Grammy Award-winning rap lyrics, memorable writing must jump off the page. Copy veteran Constance Hale is on a mission to make creative communication, both the lyrical and the unlawful, an option for everyone.

With its crisp, witty tone, Sin and Syntax covers grammar’s ground rules while revealing countless unconventional syntax secrets (such as how to use—Gasp!—interjections or when to pepper your prose with slang) that make for sinfully good writing. Discover how to:

*Distinguish between words that are “pearls” and words that are “potatoes”

* Avoid “couch potato thinking” and “commitment phobia” when choosing verbs

* Use literary devices such as onomatopoeia, alliteration, and metaphor (and understand what you're doing)

Everyone needs to know how to write stylish prose—students, professionals, and seasoned writers alike. Whether you’re writing to sell, shock, or just sing, Sin and Syntax is the guide you need to improve your command of the English language.

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Review:

You gotta love a grammar guide that calls verbs "moody little suckers" and adverbs "promiscuous." Constance Hale (Wired Style) relishes prose that is deliberate, beautiful, and bold. Go ahead and break the rules, she says; just know the rules first, and know why you are breaking them. In Sin & Syntax, Hale examines the elements of grammar from four angles: the "bones" (the grammar lesson), the "flesh" (the writing lesson), "cardinal sins" (what she calls "true transgressions"), and "carnal pleasures" (the beauty that results from either "hew[ing] exquisitely to the underlying codes of language," or not).

For illustration, Hale hails Walt Whitman and Roger Angell, and rails upon Alexander Haig and the Gump's catalogue. She hauls in Joan Didion to make a case for writing in the first person, Mark Twain to promote the killing of adjectives, C.S. Lewis to advocate showing rather than telling, and Loudon Wainwright III to lament the abuse of the word like. But Hale has no problem making her own points. "Euphemisms," she says, "are for wimps." She dismisses a particularly heinous example of scholarly prose as "a bunch of big words thrown into an Osterizer." Even other grammarians don't escape her derision: "Get a grip," Hale says. "Hopefully as a sentence adverb is here to stay." But what distinguishes Sin and Syntax most is its enthusiasm for prose that takes risks. "Even if you have to check with a lawyer," says Hale, "isn't a kick-ass piece of writing worth the effort?" --Jane Steinberg

From the Back Cover:

Sin and Sintax is one of the rare books that recognizes—and even celebrates—the fact that good writing has little to do with ‘rules’ and much to do with a true understanding of effective prose. Connie Hale provides us an invaluable service by showing us what works and what doesn’t in the real world, regardless of what the pedants say.”—Jesse Sheidlower, Senior Editor, Random House Dictionaries

“This new grammar book is...light-years ahead of what you’d read in eighth-grade English: With vivid, contemporary examples of what to do and what not to do, it’s fun to read.”—Observer

“Probably the hippest grammar guide ever written, this book shows how to write for results, wholesome or subversive.”
American Way

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