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Spunk & Bite: A Writer's Guide to Bold,…
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Spunk & Bite: A Writer's Guide to Bold, Contemporary Style

by Arthur Plotnik

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You want to write a Blog, an article… oh anything in public in fact, well in the USA you have to deal with the style police. In Britain, they are known as the green ink grannies and are gently ignored; we don’t do earnest. Well we almost did with A Dictionary of Modern English Usage, by Henry Watson Fowler which suggested about the split infinitive that the

…English-speaking world may be divided into (1) those who neither know nor care what a split infinitive is; (2) those who do not know, but care very much; (3) those who know and condemn; (4) those who know and approve; and (5) those who know and distinguish.

Thankfully this was by the 80’s revised away from prescriptive American style policing so we are free to keep to the high standards of writing where expression is more important then style. Hmm, may have to come back to this.

But write in America and you judged by the book of truth, the book of righteous writing, the book correctness which all Americans know as The Elements of Style. Its roots go back to 1918 where William Strunk, Jr. wrote a 43-page booklet for the good students of Cornell University. And like all sensible guide for students was mainly ignored. But then in 1957, E.B.White, one of the top 20th century literary essayists (and yes author of Charlotte’s Webb) wrote a piece praising the now largely forgotten William Strunk defence of lucid English. This led to the first edition that originally detailed eight elementary rules of usage, ten elementary principles of composition, "a few matters of form," and a list of commonly misused words and expressions. By the 80’s and the 3rd edition, this had bloated up to Fifty-four pointers, along with a list of common mistakes concerning individual words: Eleven rules of punctuation and grammar; eleven principles of writing; eleven matters of form; and twenty-one reminders for a better style.

What Spunk and Bite by Arthur Plotnik (yes we get the pun but in Britain, you have now managed to create an embarrassed silence where we pretend not to have heard you) does is to challenge the prescription of dead white upper class Americans without arguing for do you own thing writing-see told you I would come back to it. To liven your writing, you need to know the rules, but then know when to break them. Be lucid but be fun and avoid at all times clichés except if they warm the cockles of your readers’ heart.

One of the tips I have taken up is to subscribe to various words of the day to build up my wordbank. Two of my rave faves are vindictivolence, the desire of revenging oneself, and pinkwashing. This is using support for breast cancer research to market products, particularly products that cause cancer. All in all it comes up with 30 tips to sparkle up your writing that range from inventing words, changing the grammatical function of a word , having strong openings and closings, use semi-colons and dashes to break up sentence but above keeping in mind that the writing needs to make the content interesting.

Let’s leave the final words to Arthur Plotnik:

Perceived correctness can be comforting to the reader, like a tidy house. But what distinguishes a piece of writing is the ambiance- the environmental mood- the language we create…tend to be judged on…aptness, inventiveness, colour, sound, rhythm…Spunk and Bite is our shorthand for such qualities… ( )
1 vote ablueidol | Jul 21, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0375722270, Paperback)

Today's writer needs more than just a solid knowledge of usage and composition to write successfully. Bestselling author Arthur Plotnik reveals the secrets to attention-grabbing, unforgettable writing, in this trade paperback edition.

Updated with all-new writing exercises, Spunk & Bite will help writers take books, articles, business reports, memos, and even e-mail messages to the next level.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:06:28 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Today's writer needs more than just a solid knowledge of usage and composition to write successfully. Bestselling author Arthur Plotnik reveals the secrets to attention-grabbing, unforgettable writing. Updated with all-new writing exercises, Spunk & Bite will help writers take books, articles, business reports, memos, and even e-mail messages to the next level. - Publisher.… (more)

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