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Stunning Sentences (The Effective Writing Series) Kindle Edition

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Length: 96 pages

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From Library Journal

Ross-Larson, founder of the American Writing Institute, here offers a three-part course in "effective writing." He starts with the basics in Stunning Sentences, which uses model sentences to illustrate different approaches, including Dramatic Flourishes, Credible Quotations, and Stark Attachments. He moves up to the next level with Powerful Paragraphs, which tells writers how to make strong points and to link their paragraphs together to make smooth and highly readable transitions. Many model paragraphs show readers how to use the techniques described. Finally, the reader is ready to write Riveting Reports. This book tells how to develop a theme, put together an outline, gather material, write drafts, and do a final edit. Instead of the time- honored note cards, Ross-Larson has writers taping sheets of paper to the walls to get a full view, very likely the best way to write and edit reports with word processors. These three books have good solid information for writers and would be especially useful for high school students. [These three titles are also available from Norton in a single hardcover called Effective Writing, ISBN 0-393-04639-7. $29.95.]ALisa J. Cihlar, Monroe P.L., W.
-ALisa J. Cihlar, Monroe P.L., WI
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

About the Author

Bruce Ross-Larson lives in Washington, D.C.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

43 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Daniel M. Hobbs on May 15, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I wanted to like this book - a great title, and the promise of techniques such as "stark attachments" and "dramatic flourishes." And there's a lot to like, here: the classification scheme is unique and clever, and examples are plentiful and chosen from a variety of fields and sources. People who learn from loosely organized collections of examples may find this book quite helpful. However, I was disappointed:

- The author's classification scheme is clever and memorable, but it works at cross-purposes with traditional grammatical classification; matters of sentence structure, diction, voice, and punctuation may all be mixed together in a single chapter. Also, the chapters do not appear to be in any logical order.

- While the introduction and first chapter are rather chatty, after that, the author's tone tends to be somewhat formal.

- The author argues up-front for "25 words or less" as the ideal sentence length, yet many of his examples and quite a bit of his own commentary on those examples violate this guideline.

- All the tools for improving sentences - over 50 of them - are covered in a mere 45 pages (the "94 pages" stated length includes all front *and* back matter).

- Finally, while I found a great many competent, effective sentences in this book, I can't recall being **stunned** by a single one.

Perhaps we're all so inured to TV-style marketing hype that we don't expect a book to deliver contents commensurate with the title's promise, but this title seems a bit pretentious, even so. The book has its moments, and the generous offering of examples is perhaps the book's strongest point. But overall, it seemed, well, hasty. I expected more, and the reader deserves more.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Fernando Sotomayor on March 27, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Any one expects that a book about good writing is in itself a model of good writing, in which clarity and elegance is inmediately obvious to the eye. Nevertheles, as soon as you open this book, you will find a gross and hurting defect: the author talks using typeface x; the examples are written also with typeface x, so the reader can not distinguish he started reading an example; then, when the author talks again, to comment or explain the example, uses italics, which most authors use for examples. So the text is an irritating mess.

The book has segments like the following (since italics is not available, I will represent it with UPPERCASE):

<<start----------
Simplest, and thus clearest, the direct sentence has one main clause and is the starting point for countless variants.

Smart eateries are puting peculiar mushrooms on the menu.

HARD TO GET MORE DIRECT THAN THIS: WHO IS DOING WHAT OT WHAT AND WHERE.
---------end>>

<<start--------
The second common variant to the direct sentence is to add a comment or definition by means of a WHICH clause.

The book also suffers more than usual from Elshtain's prose style, WHICH IS EARNEST AT BEST AND PLODDING AT WORST

SET OFF BY COMMAS, THE which CLAUSE CAN BE LEFT OUT WITHOUT DISRUPTING THE MEANING OF THE MAIN CLAUSE.
------end>>

This is a very dumb style for writing a book; even worse, if it is one about good writing.

In an attempt to make the book somewhat readable, I had to draw a box around every example.

Afterwards, I find that most of the recommendations are amateurish, without any logical, nor grammar support, but just the supposedly "exquisite" author's taste.
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24 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Russell A. Rohde MD on April 16, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"Stunning Sentences: The Effective Writing Series", by Bruce Ross-Larson, NY: WW Norton & Co., 1999 - ISBN 0-393-31795-1 PB, 94 Pg. (8.1" x 5.5"). It (book) actually started on pg. 13, two Exemplars used 10 pg., & finally "Sources" consumed 14 pg., -- so you only get 58 pg. as a brochure or booklet (not a book).

"Stunning Sentences" covers: Approach, Common Form, Short Form, Dramatic Flourishes, Elegant Repeats, Credible Quotes, Conversational Injections, Stark Attaches, Deft Connects, & One-syllable Openers. (Author's 'Injections' seemingly variant interjections & asides).

Author offers "hundreds of sample sentences cataloged by type" & "this book will show you patterns...in good writing"...& "how you can...write with precision & eloquence." The author offers "many tools...to create...rhythm...& balance...& build...individual style."

Author reports his credentials as "Founder of the Amnerican Writing Institute", but his booklet (at least for me) missed its mark & was neither inspirational nor elegant. What I learned was the author's preoccupation, praise & prediliction for: "The Economist" (74 citations), "New York Times" magazine" (44 cit.), "New Yorker" magazine (15 cit.), "New York Times" (10 cit.), "New York Book Review" (8 cit.), & a few others. Why any author would choose to fill 1/4 of a booklet with such extensive citations is unreasonable (unless to avoid plagarism) & is not evidence of originality (perhaps novelty was sought?).

Alternative? If you desire help on writing skills do consider: "The Little Red Writing Book" by Brandon Royal -- it has much more to offer (see my recent review on "TLRWB").
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