Today’s book review, on William Shakespeare’s birthday, is brought to you by yours truly, Morgen Bailey.
Word Up! How to Write Powerful Sentences and Paragraphs (and everything you build from them.
You may write blog posts, e-books, e-mails, executive summaries, e-zine articles, hospital-hallway signs, presentations, proposals, lab reports, letters to the editor, love letters, lunch-bag notes, movie reviews, news stories, novels, online help, plays, poems, proposals, recipes, reference manuals, scholarly critiques, speeches, term papers, tweets, user-interface text, video scripts, web pages, or white papers.
You may write for a million readers or for one. You may use a pen, a typewriter, a wiki, or an XML authoring tool. You may be a grammar snob, or you may think that “grammar snobs are great big meanies.” You may write because something within you says you can’t not write – or because your boss says you can’t not write. No matter what you write, or how or why, you and every other writer have two things in common: you use words, and you want someone to want to read them.
How do you get people to want to read your words? Know your subject. Know your audience. And write powerfully. This book can help you write powerfully.
‘Word Up!’ is available from http://www.amazon.com/Write-Powerful-Sentences-Paragraphs-Everything-ebook/dp/B00CYSB2IK and http://www.amazon.co.uk/Write-Powerful-Sentences-Paragraphs-Everything-ebook/dp/B00CYSB2IK.
Review (of the Kindle version)
Unusually (in my experience anyway), we’re asked if we like the book to tweet and post our feedback. This is a little off-putting as I don’t know whether I like it or not yet. I can understand it being near the front because readers, once they’ve read the book, might close it before they get to a near-the-back ‘Like it?’ page (where I have this in my eBooks) and Marcia may never know, although by the time they’ve got to the end, they may have forgotten she’s asked the question.
I’m not normally a fan of ‘acclaim’ appearing at the beginning of a book before and Marcia’s has loads (21, including one that just says, “Witty”), so I have high expectations.
The Contents page is packed (and mainly split into three parts; I = Up with Words, II = Up with Sentences and Paragraphs, III = Up with Writing)
I found the Foreword a little sickly (praising), written by Scott Abel, The Content Wrangler which then takes us into the Preface we’re introduced, by Marcia, to her English teacher, Mrs White, who I grew to like in just a couple of paragraphs. Marcia then talks about U.S. English education more generally.
The Acknowledgements lists some of the people who have influenced Marcia’s life and it is a long list (26 paragraphs). Again, I felt this would have been far better placed at the back as we already have a very simple dedication (For Brian and Elizabeth) at the front.
The book starts 12% of the way through with the Introduction – how the book came about and what it plans to achieve which finished with ‘Up with (Thoughtful) Prescriptiveism, which discusses how language has changed and still is changing.
Part 1 (Up with Words) encourages us to dispose of – where we can – weak versions of the verb ‘to be’ and has some very useful editing tips with ‘before’ and ‘after’ examples, e.g. instead of ‘It is important to tighten your sentences’, a stronger version is ‘Tighten your sentences’.
Next we have ‘Talk – I Mean Obfuscate – Your Way to the Top’, aimed at business professionals, followed by ‘The Only Thing That These Signs Have in Common’ which looks at uses of the word ‘only’.
Moving on to pronouns in ‘Her and I: How to Banish Painful Personal-Pronoun Pairings’, this section covers the regularly misused ‘I’ vs ‘me’.
‘To Each Their Own’ picks up on something prevalent in social media; where the gender of a user is unknown, the system uses ‘they’ or ‘their’ and Marcia provides some alternative suggestions.
‘Whom Ya Gonna Call?’ covers who vs whom and this is another grey area in literature.
Hyphens are discussed next, and hyphens vs dashes are something I’m often highlighting to my editing clients so it’s useful to have another writer’s opinion on it.