- Paperback: 289 pages
- Publisher: Broadway Books; First Trade edition (March 20, 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0767903099
- ISBN-13: 978-0767903097
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.9 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 83 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #630,732 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Sin and Syntax: How to Craft Wickedly Effective Prose First Trade Edition
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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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
Hale, editor of the hip Wired Style (LJ 10/1/96), has put together a writing/grammar manual that is fresh and fun. The basic rules are here, and they are well explained. The "sin" from the title is partly advice on when and how to break these rules. The other sins are examples of oft-repeated mistakes. Readers will not be told how to write a novel, a poem, or a newspaper article, but if they are writing one this guide will help them use effective and artful language. The examples range from Dr. Seuss books to John F. Kennedy's speeches to commercials, and a short bibliography of books on writing, grammar, and language is included. Easy to understand and appealing to a broad range of readers, this book is highly recommend for all libraries.ALisa J. Cihlar, Monroe P.L., WI
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Divided into chapters on words (nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions and interjections), sentences (subject and predicate, simple sentences, phrases and clauses, and sentence variety) and music (voice, lyricism, melody and rhythm), each chapter is divided into four sections: Bones -- the basics of grammatical usage; Flesh -- putting the grammar into context; Cardinal Sins -- highlighting errors; and Carnal Pleasures -- examples of writing that defy the rules.
The organization is mainly successful and the author uses lots of examples to show both good and bad writing. i learned from the book, re-learned a few things I'd forgotten (when's the last time you saw a sentence diagram?!), and enjoyed the book.