On Our Shelves Now
A fully revised and updated edition with writing prompts and challenges in every chapter
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. Copy veteran Constance Hale is on a mission to make creative communication, both the lyrical and the unlawful, an option for everyone.
With its crisp, witty tone, Sin and Syntax covers grammar’s ground rules while revealing countless unconventional syntax secrets (such as how to use—Gasp!—interjections or when to pepper your prose with slang) that make for sinfully good writing. Discover how to:
*Distinguish between words that are “pearls” and words that are “potatoes”
* Avoid “couch potato thinking” and “commitment phobia” when choosing verbs
* Use literary devices such as onomatopoeia, alliteration, and metaphor (and understand what you're doing)
Everyone needs to know how to write stylish prose—students, professionals, and seasoned writers alike. Whether you’re writing to sell, shock, or just sing, Sin and Syntax—now celebrating 20 years in print—is the guide you need to improve your command of the English language.
About the Author
Constance Hale is the author of several books, including three on writing: Sin and Syntax; Vex, Hex, Smash, Smooch; and Wired Style, the one-of-a-kind guide to online English usage and geekspeak that was hailed by Newsweek as "The Chicago Manual of Style for the Millennium." A former editor at Wired, Hale has written for numerous publications including the San Francisco Examiner and The Microsoft Network. She has created maverick writing courses for people of all ages, including a popular seminar called "Grammar for Grownups," and currently teaches at U.C. Berkeley. She lives in Oakland, California.
“Probably the hippest grammar guide ever written, this book shows how to write for results, wholesome or subversive.” —American Way
“This new grammar book is light-years ahead of what you’d read in eighth-grade English: With vivid, contemporary examples of what to do and what not to do, it’s fun to read.” —Charlotte Observer
“In ‘Sin and Syntax: How to Craft Wickedly Effective Prose,’ Constance Hale provides a plugged-in, cutting-edge alternative to the must prescriptions of Strunk and White. Here you will find an open-minded, exuberant approach to style that is intelligent and refreshing.” —Charles Harrington Elster, in The San Diego Union-Tribune
“Hale has put together a writing/grammar manual that is fresh and fun. The basic rules are here, and they are well explained. The ‘sin’ from the title is partly advice on when and how to break these rules. The other sins are examples of oft-repeated mistakes…..this guide will help [readers] use effective and artful language. The examples range from Dr. Seuss books to John F. Kennedy's speeches to commercials…. Easy to understand and appealing to a broad range of readers, this book is highly recommend for all libraries.” —Alisa J. Cihlar, Monroe P.L., WI, in Library Journal
“This is a wonderful how-to-book about writing stuff people want to read. Those who have studied the subject might think of Hale as a peacemaker between the Strunk and White tribe devoted to precision and the more entertaining descendants of Henry Mencken, full of energy and inventions. Nonwriters who just want advice that won’t put them to sleep will find sentences they can dance to.” —Make Maza in The Dallas Morning News
“Constance Hale, in ‘Sin and Syntax: How to Craft Wickedly Effective Prose,’ is the first grammarian I’ve seen in a long time brave enough to revive diagramming.” —Ed Gray, in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
“Hale’s analyses of texts, from Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom! To the jargon-laden prose of government and corporate documents, are full of insight because she lets the reader in on how language has the power to move us or confuse us.” —Charles K. Bultman, in California Lawyer
“Hale [is] good at explaining rules, and she provides a lot of examples of writing that really is sinfully good. Osmosis alone should help you here.” —Gary Kaufman, in Salon
"Move over, grumpy schoolmarms everywhere. Your time has come. For the writer or wannabe, Sin and Syntax is an urgently needed, updated, and hip guide to modern language and writing. Nobody but Connie Hale could make the elements of 21st-century style so much fun." --Jon Katz, media critic and author of Running to the Mountain and Virtuous Reality
"Sin and Syntax is one of the rare books that recognizes--and even celebrates--the fact that good writing has little to do with 'rules' and much to do with a true understanding of effective prose. Connie Hale provides us an invaluable service by showing us what works and what doesn't in the real world, regardless of what the pedants say."--Jesse Sheidlower, Senior Editor, Random House Dictionaries, and author of "Jesse's Word of the Day" column