Friday, September 23, 2016

Book Review # 15: The Writer's Diet

My rating: ●●●●
Helen Sword
The Writer's Diet: A Guide to Fit Prose
US: University of Chicago Press, 2007
88 pp. 1200
ISBN: 9780226351988

Summary: The Writer’s Diet is going to help everyone who’ll refer to it develop healthy writing habits and see their words with new eyes. It’s going to help prep your prose without losing your sense of style. With the help of plenty of examples, the concepts would get clearer along the way and you’ll able to certify a writing as flabby or fit.

What really clicked? The title and my need to improvise as a writer.

My take: There are certain important takeaways from the book that they rather be noted down here for future, quick reference.
1. Favor robust, specific action verbs over vague, lazy ones.
2. Limit use of be-verbs (is, am are, was, were, be, being, been).
3. Anchor abstract ideas in concrete language and images.
4. Illustrate abstract concepts using real-life examples (Show, don’t tell).
5. Limit use of abstract nouns, especially nominalization.
6. Avoid using three prepositional phrases in a row, unless you do so to achieve a specific rhetorical effect.
7. Vary your prepositions.
8. Do not allow a noun and its accompanying verb to get separated by more than 12 words.
9. Let concrete nouns and active verbs do most of the descriptive work.
10. Employ adjective and adverbs only when they contribute new information to the sentence.
11. Avoid overuse of academic ad-words (with suffixes able, ac, al, ant, ary, ent, ful, ible, ic, ive, less, ous).
12. Use ‘it’ and ‘this’ only when you can state exactly which noun each word refers to.
13. Avoid using ‘that’ more than once in a sentence or three times in a paragraph, except to achieve a specific stylistic effect.
14. Beware of sweeping generalization that begin with ‘there’.

Also, Writer’s Diet helps determine the overall fitness rating of any write up based on the components they are composed of – verbs, nouns, prepositions, ad-words, waste words (it/this/that/there). Four stars because plenty of examples from Shakespeare’s texts sound out of course and, thus, aren’t much useful.

Final word: The book should now be my favorite reference book; I am already so conscious about how I'm writing that I'm compelled to look back on each sentence at least twice. Amazing help book, The Writer's Diet should be a compulsory reference for all the writers and editors, no matter at what level they are.


Unknown said...

It looks like a great read for budding writers'. I'd be sure to give it a read.

xoxo Chaicy - Style.. A Pastiche!

Cheena Chopra said...

Thanks for your comments, Chaicy! I am sure it's really going to be useful for you. Happy reading :)

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