To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.
Words Fail Me: What Everyone Who Writes Should Know about Writing Reprint Edition
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
Top 20 lists in Books
View the top 20 best sellers of all time, the most reviewed books of all time and some of our editors' favorite picks. Learn more
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
More About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
"Your first duty to the reader is to make sense. Everything else -- eloquence, beautiful images, catchy phrases, melodic and rhythmic language -- comes later, if at all. I'm all for artistry, but it's better to write something homely and clear than something lovely and unintelligible."
I read quite a lot, mostly nonfiction (philosophy, reference, science, theology, and wilderness travel). Inevitably, reading compels me to write -- I've submitted more than fifty book reviews to this forum. Yet I'm never quite happy with my writing. This is not unusual. "Your favorite novel or history or memoir is just someone's last revision," says O'Conner.
As a student I disliked studying the nuts and bolts of English. Words, their accuracy, economy, and artistry, interest me far more now, and this book is the first "how to write" text I have read. At the risk of belaboring the obvious (because good writing doesn't): it was a good choice.
Having resources like this book by O'Conner certainly helps. Rather than the dry stuff foisted off on middle- and high-school students, O'Conner leads through examples. This is a nice companion to her earlier book, Woe Is I: The Grammarphobe's Guide to Better English in Plain English, which covers some of the wrong-headed beliefs that most students emerge from secondary school with (such as the incorrect idea that it is wrong to end a sentence with a preposition, which I just did). It's a good writing book that gets you to thinking it's time to pick up the pen and write something, and that's how I felt several times while reading through this one. In fact, her section on point of view "cured" a bit of writer's block I was having with regard to one story that had been lingering about in my mind for the last four years and which I had been unable to start.
I'd be tempted to do away with the writer's handbook for these two books of O'Conner's, but that wouldn't be smart. These are good, but they aren't a reference so much as they are an explanation for why grammar needs to be observed.
1. You have writer's block and need help.
2. You feel that you've confused the many rules of writing.
3. Your writing style bores you.
4. It takes you three pages to explain something that's complicated.
I read "Words Fail Me" for motivation while writing my second book. The best way to move past a writer's block is to lift your confidence by sharpening your writing skills. O'Conner delivers writing confidence in about 20 easy-to-digest chapters.
Patricia T. O'Conner's work is neither preachy nor boring. She speaks to the aspiring writer who may have forgotten some grammar rules while queuing you to times when you may not need to adhere to all the rules in the grammar book.
Her writing is witty and makes grammar fun, for once. It's a neat refresher book to add to your writing library.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
"Words Fail Me" by Patricia T. O'Conner is about learning writing and grammar in a fun way. I like her humor in the examples of incorrect and correct grammar.Published 2 months ago by Vaughn
Witty and easy to read, this is a great book for anyone who writes. Ms O'Conner has a great style and makes a boring subject fun and easy. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Keith S
This looks interesting but have only leafted through it. A good resource, looking forward to reading more of it.Published 8 months ago by DONNA
I have liked all her books and enjoy listening to her on public radio when she is a guest. Easy reading, fun and educational. I wish high school had been as enjoyable.Published 13 months ago by Paul
It's a book with words that is required for a college class.Published 13 months ago by Jason O. Tarver
Good book but more for younger kids my daughter loved it so I guess it served it's purpose book arrived quickly and in great conditionPublished 22 months ago by desiree