The Elements of Expression: Putting Thoughts into Words

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Overview


More than ever in this completely updated edition, The Elements of Expression helps word users "light up the cosmos or the written page or the face across the table" as they seek the radiance of expressiveness—the vivid expression of thoughts, feelings, and observations.

Nothing kills radiance like the murky, generic language dominating today's talk, airwaves, and posts. It tugs at our every sentence, but using it to express anything beyond the ordinary is like flapping the ...

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The Elements of Expression: Putting Thoughts into Words

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Overview


More than ever in this completely updated edition, The Elements of Expression helps word users "light up the cosmos or the written page or the face across the table" as they seek the radiance of expressiveness—the vivid expression of thoughts, feelings, and observations.

Nothing kills radiance like the murky, generic language dominating today's talk, airwaves, and posts. It tugs at our every sentence, but using it to express anything beyond the ordinary is like flapping the tongue to escape gravity. The Elements of Expression offers an adventurous and inspiring flight into words that truly share what's percolating in our minds. Here writers, presenters, students, bloggers—even well intentioned "Mad Men"—will discover language to convey precise feelings, move audiences, delight and persuade.

No snob or scold, the acclaimed word-maven Arthur Plotnik explores the full range of expressiveness, from playful "tough talk" to finely wrought literature, with hundreds of rousing examples. Confessing that we are all "like a squid in its ink" when first groping for luminous expression, he shines his amiable wit on the elements leading, ultimately, to language of "fissionable intensity."

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Editorial Reviews

Diane Brandley

[G]enuinely funny. Mr. Plotnik seeks to enlighten but also to entertain, making the skill of quality expressiveness a goal, rather than some elusive daydream. . . . The strongest parts of the book contrast insipid or ordinary modes of expression with clear, powerful methods.
—New York Journal of Books (6/12/12 www.nyjournalofbooks.com/review/elements-expression-putting-thoughts-words-2nd-edition)

Lisa Romero

Plotnik is concerned about—no, make that fervent, ardent, zealous, even fanatical about—making the language of the written word as interesting and precise as possible. . . . This book roots for language that is not just right but bright, which communicates the truest tone and shading and the finest distinctions . . . . work that is irresistible, engrossing, unpredictably original...
—ForeWord (6/27/12 www.forewordreviews.com/reviews/the-elements-of-expression/)

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This entertaining potpourri of thoughts about words by the associate publisher of the American Library Association touches on a variety of philological concerns. Plotnik (Elements of Editing) fails to lead with his strength: not a trained linguist, he does draw a distinction between prescriptive and descriptive grammar, coming down heavily in favor of the latter and ignoring possibilities of compromise. But he gets into trouble when he classifies all expressions as either standard or substandard, allowing for no distinction between formal and informal usage and accusing "authorities" of giving slang, jargon, argot and the like roughly equal status But once he turns to the steps leading to expressiveness, he is most effective, demonstrating a fine ability to choose quotations from writers past and present that really sing. He deals with verbal power, clichs, borrowing apt phrases from others, jargon and even public speaking. A helpful little compendium for writers and speakers wishing to brush up on their prose. (Apr.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781936740147
  • Publisher: Cleis Press
  • Publication date: 6/12/2012
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 347
  • Sales rank: 348,533
  • Product dimensions: 5.08 (w) x 6.84 (h) x 0.96 (d)

Meet the Author


Arthur Plotnik is a versatile author with a distinguished background in editing and publishing. Among his seven previous books (not to mention 22 pseudonymous potboilers early in his career) are The Elements of Editing and The Elements of Expression, both Book-of-the-Month Club selections, and the best-selling Spunk & Bite: A Writer's Guide to Bold, Contemporary Style. His articles, op-eds, and literary pieces have been published widely, including his columns in The Writer magazine, on whose editorial board he serves.

Plotnik studied under Philip Roth in the Iowa Writers Workshop, was a reporter for the Albany (N.Y.) Times-Union, and after earning a second graduate degree, worked as a Library of Congress staffer in Washington and magazine editor in New York. He received numerous honors and awards as a long-time editor and publisher with the American Library Association in Chicago. He lives in that city with his wife and an avalanchine tumble of jottings for Better than Great.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 6 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 15, 2013

    Plotnik brings an enjoyable and witty outlook to advice giving.

    Plotnik brings an enjoyable and witty outlook to advice giving. Covering everything from Public speaking to writing. He was so enjoyable to read; I learned things that I never knew I needed advice on.  I picked this book up for some help with school and found myself craving to read more; I couldn’t put it down. 

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 17, 2013

    The Elements of Expression dispels myths your grammar teachers h

    The Elements of Expression dispels myths your grammar teachers hammered into you and allows you to accept that there are multiple (and many!) forms of suitable expression. Not only does this book cover a vast array of contextualized situations where one may need to express oneself, but it does so in a way that is accessible and relatable. Plotnik quotes from Shakespeare to Richard Pryor in a way that proves he is able to capture a wide audience. I can see his words having the ability to reach anyone; I know they spoke to me. If you start the book feeling like an empty vessel, by the end he will have you overflowing with different means of communication. I recommend this book to anyone searching for a little vocabulary refreshment.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 21, 2013

    As a writer, I am constantly on the prowl for new and refreshing

    As a writer, I am constantly on the prowl for new and refreshing literature to get my head back in the game and remind me what it is that I am passionate about and how best to go about letting all of that passion out. the book covers language, expression, grammar, and so much more. The content is relevant, relatable, and undeniably helpful. It's a great read for writers!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 20, 2013

    Plotnik is very helpful with how a writer can sharpen their lang

    Plotnik is very helpful with how a writer can sharpen their language to make better use of their words. He
    says "We struggle with words because they separate us from the lowing beasts and tell the world who we are, what we want, and why." To me this sums the book up perfectly.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 13, 2013

    ..The Elements of Expression is a great resource for anyone tryi

    ..The Elements of Expression is a great resource for anyone trying to improve their public speaking or their ability to generally express themselves. I especially enjoyed the section on slang. Definitely recommend this book to anyone who speaks English (and maybe even those who don't)!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 12, 2013

    This book is a fun way to expand the way you express yourself th

    This book is a fun way to expand the way you express yourself through words! Plotnik does a great job of pointing out things that you don't know without being condescending or removed, and instead of shaming you for not knowing will give you new ways to build up the elements you use in your expression! This book is a great and easy read, designed to make sense instead of confuse. I would recommend it to anyone who wants something fun and interesting that will improve the way you communicate through written and spoken word!

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