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Paperback Curious Case of the Misplaced Modifier: How to Solve the Mysteries of Weak Writing Book

ISBN: 1582975612

ISBN13: 9781582975610

Curious Case of the Misplaced Modifier: How to Solve the Mysteries of Weak Writing

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Book Overview

The Seven Writing Mysteries that Really Matter Most people think that good grammar leads to good writing. But the truth is that while good writing may be technically correct, it's also strong, concise, and specific. This guide identifies the seven writing weaknesses that editors everywhere must fix again and again; in fact, almost all of an editor's corrections on any piece of writing will come from the material covered in this book's lessons. In...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

An Excellent Reference for Writers of All Skill Levels

A decade as a professional copyeditor and proofreader prompted Bonnie Trenga to write a reference book. She noticed that beginning and experienced clients alike made the same mistakes. Sometimes the mistakes lay with grammar or punctuation, but usually sentence structure was the problem. At the time, none of the available grammar books addressed the problems she continually encountered. She felt that writers needed a guide covering the seven common writing mistakes she saw most often. The Curious Case of the Misplaced Modifier is the result of her effort. Writing well takes more than correct grammar. A sentence with ackward phrasing can cause readers to lose interest. So, instead of focusing on grammar, Misplaced Modifier concentrates on writing clear sentences that inform and entertain readers. Each chapter begins with a short mystery story full of the writing mistake addressed. The chapters are short, direct and supported by examples. Each one is concluded by a recap and a summary. Trenga tells us what she's going to tell us, tells us what she told us, and then tells us again. The problems discussed in the book include passive voice, nominalization, vague -ing words, weak verbs, misplaced modifiers, long sentences and wordy prose. Although the example stories are mysteries, the information is useful for any form of writing. After the seven chapters on writing felonies comes a list of ten writing misdemeanors. The list covers punctuation, clichés, spelling and vocabulary. An answer key for the mistake-ridden mysteries and a glossary follow. The book concludes with a weak writing rap sheet. The rap sheet repeats the information presented in the book in a graph form. It's format, which lists problems, examples and fixes, makes it easy to find the answers to specific questions.

A wonderful book

This is, quite simply, a wonderful book for writers of all levels; whether high school, college, professional, or otherwise. If your writing is sick, because of weak sentence structure and improper grammar usage, reading this book will help heal it. The lessons found here will mend your words, and they will flow strong and true right from the heart of your writing, coursing through every sentence, bringing new life to your meaning. I'm a professional writer who is always in search of ways to improve my craft, and have shelves of writing books; many of which are on the subject of grammar. They, for the most part, are dry, lifeless, and make for very dull reading. But 'The Curious Case Of The Misplaced Modifier' is different. It presents explanations of seven common grammatical mistakes in an easy to grasp, personal, and thoroughly enjoyable way. It's almost as if the author was sitting on the couch next to me, sipping tea, while explaining why and how to build better sentences through the proper use of grammar. Although a physically small book, measuring just 8"x5" with some 150 pages, it packs a huge wallop. Yes, Gracie, good things do come in small packages. Buy it, you will not be disappointed. Barry Gluck

Entertaining, sly, informative read on... grammar?!

Grammar is something that so many people struggle with, and it can be tough to find a book on it that you're really willing to sit down and read. I've found some good ones over the years, such as "Keys to Great Writing" by Stephen Wilbers. I've also found one or two that were painful to read. Still, while I enjoyed "Keys", many people would prefer something... shorter. Simpler. Perhaps because they're deathly afraid of grammar, or perhaps because they already know much of it and just want to brush up on the details now and then. The Curious Case of the Misplaced Modifier, by Bonnie Trenga, is perfect for these people. Each chapter on a particular "grammar crime" begins with a case for Detective Pinkersolve. These case write-ups deliciously skewer the English language in some way. Each chapter goes on to explain why this type of grammar error confuses and confounds readers and how to fix it, with the help of many examples. Finally you're encouraged to fix up the opening case to make it more readable, then compare it to a sample rewrite in the back of the book. This book will be particularly fun for those who enjoy reading mysteries, as the examples all draw on aspects of crime and police-work. The examples are hilariously comical and over-the-top, making them entertaining to read rather than headache-inducing or boring. The humor here is sly, ironic and delightful. It's clear that Ms. Trenga has carefully thought through the content of this book; nothing here is off-handed or rushed. Rather than simply stating that passive voice is bad, as many people do, she details the situations in which it would be appropriate. Instead of simply showing us "incorrect" and "correct" examples, she often details incorrect, correct, and "even better." This beautifully shows the reader that there can be a difference between writing that is technically correct and writing that is good. Ms. Trenga tells us why the various "crimes" detailed in this book confuse readers or weaken our writing, rather than expecting us to follow them simply because they are the rules. She also explains that there's a difference between getting your ideas down on paper--which can be easier to do if you write quickly and ignore the rules--and polishing them up afterward for public viewing.

She should know!

Over the years, I have purchased many writing books. This one stands out against the others because instead of being grammar rules oppressing it is writing style enlightening. The author's objective is to keep the writer from confusing his audience. And the fact that the author has been a professional copy-editor and proofreader for ten years gives credibility to her suggestions. She knows first hand just how poorly people can write, what the most common errors in writing are (she claims there are seven), and how to avoid making those same mistakes yourself. Her writing approach is engaging and clever....you are seeking out the mystery of writing through solving the crimes of poor writing.

Simple & Useful

The author does a very good job of informing the reader about all the common mistakes we make in our writing, particularly the dreaded passive voice. It is very helpful for anyone looking for a quick brush-up on improving their writing, but without getting overly technical. It hits the high points perfectly. The little "mystery" novel helps greatly to show folks how weak writing can creep into their work without them really being aware of it. It's a quick read, but worth it.
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