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Monday, March 7, 2016

Sin and Syntax - how to craft wickedly effective prose

This week I'm going to share some bits with you from one of my favorite writing books: Sin and Syntax by Constance Hale.




The book is divided into three parts: Words, Sentences, and Music, and each chapter is broken into four sections:

The Bones, which reminds us of the keys to grammar. "Learn the sensible system, if only to know how to escape it in flights of creative fancy (it's more flexible than those English teachers would have you believe)."

The Flesh "shows how the parts of speech, the syntax of sentences, and the techniques of music give us the best stories."

Cardinal Sins "catalogs true transgressions...disaster that lurks in mangled syntax...[and] debunks those horrid myths that often substitute for a real understanding of the underpinnings of language."


Carnal Pleasures "shows how breaking the rules can lead to breakthrough prose."

What I loved about this book: It's easy and fun to read, it's witty, and it helps remind me of the rules and when to stick with them and when it's okay to put them aside.

Do you have a favorite book on grammar?

3 comments:

Bish Denham said...

Hmmm. I'm going to have check this book out. I don't have a favorite grammar book, unless you count Strunk and White.

Huntress said...

Clever title, HA.

I like Grammar Girl but if I need a quick answer, Susan Thurman's The Only Grammar Book You'll Ever Need is my meat-and-potatoes reference.

Liz A. said...

I tend not to look up grammar unless it's for something specific. I got drilled on grammar in high school, and that takes care of much of what I need most of the time.