Synopses & Reviews
Great writing isn’t born, it’s built—sentence by sentence. But too many writers—and writing guides—overlook this most important unit. The result? Manuscripts that will never be published and writing careers that will never begin.
In this wickedly humorous manual, language columnist June Casagrande uses grammar and syntax to show exactly what makes some sentences great—and other sentences suck.
With chapters on “Conjunctions That Kill” and “Words Gone Wild,” this lighthearted guide is perfect for anyone who’s dead serious about writing, from aspiring novelists to nonfiction writers, conscientious students to cheeky literati. So roll up your sleeves and prepare to craft one bold, effective sentence after another. Your readers will thank you.
About the Author
June Casagrande is a journalist and editor who writes the weekly syndicated grammar column “A Word, Please.” The author of Grammar Snobs Are Great Big Meanies and Mortal Syntax, June lives in Pasadena, California.
Table of Contents
Introduction The Sentence: The Writer’s Most Important Tool 1
Chapter 1 Who Cares? Making Sentences Meaningful to Your Reader 7
Chapter 2 Conjunctions That Kill: Subordination 15
Chapter 3 Movable Objects: Understanding Phrases and Clauses 29
Chapter 4 Size Matters: Short versus Long Sentences 36
Chapter 5 Words Gone Wild: Sentences That Say Nothing—or Worse 53
Chapter 6 Words Gone Mild: Choosing Specific Words Over Vague Ones 61
Chapter 7 A Frequently Overstated Case: The Truth About Adverbs 65
Chapter 8 Are Your Relatives Essential? Relative Clauses 72
Chapter 9 Antique Desk Suitable for Lady with Thick Legs and Large Drawers: Prepositional Phrases 80
Chapter 10 Dangler Danger: Participles and Other Danglers 85
Chapter 11 The Writing Was Ignored by the Reader: Passives 90
Chapter 12 You Will Have Been Conjugating: Other Matters of Tense 98
Chapter 13 The Being and the Doing Are the Killing of Your Writing: Nominalizations 107
Chapter 14 The The: Not-So-Definite Definite Articles 112
Chapter 15 The Writer and His Father Lamented His Ineptitude: Unclear Antecedents 116
Chapter 16 To Know Them Is to Hating Them: Faulty and Funky Parallels 122
Chapter 17 Taking the Punk Out of Punctuation: The Problem with Semicolons and Parentheses 125
Chapter 18 You Don’t Say: Descriptive Quotation Attributions 131
Chapter 19 Trimming the Fat: Expressions That Weigh Down Your Sentences 134
Chapter 20 The Major Overhaul: Streamlining Even the Most Problematic Sentences 149
Chapter 21 On Breaking the “Rules”: Knowing When to Can the Canons 164
Appendix 1 Grammar for Writers 167
Appendix 2 Punctuation Basics for Writers 191
Appendix 3 The Deadliest Catches: The Most Incriminating Errors and How to Avoid Them 204
About the Author 208