Saturday, April 17, 2010

Recommended Reading

Sin and Syntax by Constance Hale

This is a fun book aimed at helping anyone "craft wickedly effective prose."
I left off  on chapter 4; adjectives, where the author discusses the difference between fewer and less. If you can count it, like marbles, it's fewer. If you can't count it, like winter, then it's less. So I would say, 'I want less winter and fewer marbles.'

I like the way Hale divides each chapter into parts, starting with the grammatical, or the Bones. Of adjectives she says, they "... are consorts, never attending a party alone," and then moving to the lesson, Flesh, where she advocates the use of precise adjectives, like maize instead of yellow. She follows with transgressions Cardinal Sins, warning of using too many adjectives instead of showing. For example, don't tell the reader the house is haunted. Show it. The last section, Carnal Pleasures,  "shows how, sometimes, ...breaking the rules can lead to breakthrough prose."

I recommend picking up a copy; it's fun and informative, one of my favorite combinations.


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