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Paperback Sin and Syntax: How to Craft Wickedly Effective Prose Book

ISBN: 0767903099

ISBN13: 9780767903097

Sin and Syntax: How to Craft Wickedly Effective Prose

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Format: Paperback

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Book Overview

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. With Sin and Syntax, copy veteran Hale makes creative communication, both the lyrical and the unlawful, an option for everyone.

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

grammar and style humorously demystified

Hale gives us a guide to grammar and style that is as fun to read as it is instructive. Occasionally the mirth is a bit strained and tiresome, but better to err on the side of entertainment .... 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.

Fun reading even for grammar know-it-alls

Well structured, as it must be, Hale's guide presents both the nuts and bolts of grammar and the considerations of style that cannot exist without a sound grasp of grammar. The book begins each section simply, with the "bones" of the part of speech being explained, puts on the "flesh," and elucidates the "cardinal sins" and the "carnal pleasures" of nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, and so on. Even when the going gets heavy, as in her discussions of attributive nouns or appositive phrases, her clear, conversational tone smooths the way. She concludes with reflections about voice, lyricism, melody, and rhythm. One of the best features of her book is a glut of choice passages from the likes of Nabokov, Joan Didion, George Orwell, Jamaica Kincaid, and many others. Her well-read reach extends to rap lyrics and the wine labels written by the flip, clever copywriters at Bonny Doon Vineyards. The collection of quotations alone makes this book worth owning. At times the tone is slightly uneven, as when she follows a serious discussion of rules with the casual use of words like "gonna" and "wimps" (apparently she has a reputation for being hip to uphold), and she includes sentence diagrams without really explaining how they operate. Her advice to "go ahead and be ungrammatical if it feels right" may make some sticklers swoon. But these are minor flaws in a manual that is useful for beginners and seasoned writers alike. You close the book understanding how the rich inventiveness of English is rooted in its complex grammar and vocabulary, which are the reasons it can be so flexible, so magical -- the reason, in fact, that language creates reality. Includes a helpful appendix describing other grammar guides.


SIN AND SYNTAX should be a text in high school English classes. A generation of enthusiastic grammarians might rise up and wipe out the scourge of dangling modifiers. The mystery of lay and lie would be be solved at last. I teach adults how to turn their great ideas into the novels they've always wanted to write; and while the refinements of plot and character and theme are fairly simple to explain, grammar and syntax bedevil student and (this) teacher alike. But no more. With humor, clarity and excellent contemporary examples, this book helps me explain to my students why, after half a dozen rewrites, their sentences still sing off key, why I nag them about details, why some adjectives work and others just take up space on the page. A great resource book.

unbelievable--a grammar book that's fun to read!

This book was recommended to me by a friend, and I have to admit that I was at first reluctant to pick it up. But I do like to write, and I figured that there might be some helpful information in the book for me. I was SO SURPRISED to find that I was actually enjoying reading the book! Hale's writing is so fun, and the examples she uses are great. You can tell from the title--SIN AND SYNTAX: How to Craft Wickedly Effective Prose--that this is going to be more exciting than Strunk and White, which I suffered through in high school. Not only will it help you improve your writing--with real world application for careers and the like, not just for students--but you'll have fun reading. Believe it.

Grammar . . . and so much more!

It's not often that a grammar book causes grins, giggles, even guffaws, but Constance Hale's Sin and Syntax is not an ordinary grammar book. The entertaining examples, from sources as diverse as Mark Twain, the Bible and wine bottle labels, illustrate the "bones," "flesh," "cardinal sins," and "carnal pleasures" of each grammatical point. After Sin and Syntax, I read children's books from a new perspective. Good preschool books are often peppered with action verbs, strong adjectives and elegant simplicity. Best of all, this grammar book inspired me to start writing again! Choosing the right word is now a puzzle to be solved, and creativity oozes from every email I send.
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