Vex, Hex, Smash, Smooch: Let Verbs Power Your Writing

Vex, Hex, Smash, Smooch: Let Verbs Power Your Writing

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by Constance Hale
     
 

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A writing handbook that celebrates the infinite pizzazz of verbs.
Writers know it instinctively: Verbs make a sentence zing. Grammar gurus agree: Drama in writing emerges from the interplay of a subject (noun) and a predicate (verb). Constance Hale, the best-selling author of Sin and Syntax, zooms in on the colorful world of verbs. Synthesizing the

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Overview

A writing handbook that celebrates the infinite pizzazz of verbs.
Writers know it instinctively: Verbs make a sentence zing. Grammar gurus agree: Drama in writing emerges from the interplay of a subject (noun) and a predicate (verb). Constance Hale, the best-selling author of Sin and Syntax, zooms in on the colorful world of verbs. Synthesizing the pedagogical and the popular, the scholarly and the scandalous, Hale combines the wit of Bill Bryson with the practical wisdom of William Zinsser. She marches through linguistic history to paint a layered picture of our language—from before it really existed to the quirky usages we see online today. She warns about habits to avoid and inspires with samples of brilliant writing. A veteran teacher, Hale gives writing prompts along the way, helping readers “try, do, write, play.” Vex, Hex, Smash, Smooch guides us to more powerful writing by demonstrating how to use great verbs with style.

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Editorial Reviews

New York Journal of Books
“A worthwhile addition to any word-lover’s book shelf.”
Library Journal
Journalist Hale (Sin and Syntax) loves language. In this latest offering, she focuses on the power of verbs to make writing sing. After a discussion of the history of language and commentary about the importance of verbs, she organizes the book into topical sections, each arranged in four subsections based on the titular verbs. "Vex" clears up confusion about the rules; "Hex" challenges grammar myths and assumptions; "Smash" focuses on particular bad habits and offers examples of not-so-good writing; and "Smooch" showcases examples of writing in which the verbs dance. This book encourages readers to think about how language is used and how it evolves. Overall, it's a romp for the language obsessed, with a broad sampling of usage to help readers who want to become better writers. VERDICT Hale's book will be useful for those seeking an accessible writing guide; it will also appeal to general readers and writers interested in increasing their understanding and mastery of the power found in a living language.—Nancy Almand, Fresno Cty. Coll. Lib., CA
Kirkus Reviews
Self-help for aspiring writers, who need, it seems, to zap the red sauce of their prose with tangier verbs. In a text that looks like many others in the self-help genre (lots of sidebars, multiple appendixes, forests of exclamation points, bushels of bullet points and gee-whiz-this-stuff-is-easy! diction), Hale (Sin and Syntax: How to Craft Wickedly Effective Prose, 1999, etc.) offers plenty of advice for would-be writers. Each chapter follows the title's structure, dealing, in sequence, with things that vex writers, grammar myths the author wishes to discredit, the failings of "writers famous and infamous, hapless and clueless" and, finally, exemplary passages. This soon grows tiresome. However, the author has done considerable homework and is careful to credit her sources and mentors (David Crystal, Steven Pinker and many others). She also assails dragons long-ago slain or grievously wounded--split infinitives, for example, or prepositions at the ends of sentences. Her attacks on the language of politicians (often George W. Bush and Sarah Palin) fail to recognize that everyone makes grammatical mistakes in extemporaneous speech and that speechwriters deserve the credit and the blame for the rest. She calls Ronald Reagan a "rhetorical genius," though it was more likely Peggy Noonan. The author tries to make it all seem so easy, and she enjoys chiding the strict grammarian types who are more fastidious than she. Hale's explanations of the differences between affect and effect and lie and lay are generally clear. Bubbling with energy and conviction but less practical than an old-fashioned style manual.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780393347050
Publisher:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
10/14/2013
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
400
Sales rank:
1,112,656
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 8.60(h) x 1.00(d)

Meet the Author

Constance Hale is the author of Wired Style and Sin and Syntax. She has taught at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard
University and UC Berkeley Extension. She is based in San Francisco,
California.

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Vex, Hex, Smash, Smooch: Let Verbs Power Your Writing 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
See my post at res one. LICHENTAIL
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Preface: this is a 100% true autobiography. It was published before as Seashanty's Trials, and has been modified from its original story format to a biography format for this contest. All characters featured in this story have had their names altered, and any relationship to other events, real or fictional, is purely coincedental. All SeaShanty merchandise and stories are owned and distributed by SSCF incorporated. Enjoy! SeaShanty sat in the shade with some of the Waterclan kits. "Tell us a story, SeaShanty!", Pearlkit shouted enthusiasticly. But SeaShanty shook her head, saying,"I've already told them all." Just then, Saltpaw padded over. "Tell them about CrossedFlame, Mama," she said to SeaShanty. Then, addressing the kits, she said "CrossedFlame was my father." She then walked off, leaving SeaShanty to the mercy of the little kits. "Please tell us," they begged. Finally, SeaShanty gave in. "I met CrossedFlame as a kit, not much older than you," she said. "It was my first time in the woods, and I got startled by a large black she-cat. As I ran out, I smacked into a orange-furred, brown-eyed tomkit. As we recovered-." "Was that CrossedFlame?", interupted Sharkkit. "Yes, it was," said SeaShanty, laughing, "and please don't interupt. As I was saying, I recovered and realized that I didn't know this kit. After warning him about the black shecat in the woods, i proceeded to walk home." "But Mama, don't forget what you told me," said Saltpaw as she walked past, "you looked back. You should've never looked back." SeaShanty nodded and said, " Youre right. I almost forgot that part. I saw CrossedFlame many more times in the woods. He insisted he was a Waterclan kit, and I let myself believe him. One day he told me he was in love with me. I realized loved him too. We had Saltpaw. But another Waterclan cat, Largeclaw, wounded CrossedFlame. I spent years thinking he was dead. But then I found him hiding in the woods. I also found out that he was Fireclan. I loved him anyway. When I found him, I immedialty began to ask questions, but he stopped me and said, 'My love, all things will be answered in the stars.' then he fell over, dead. His wound, uncleaned, had become infected and poisoned his whole body." SeaShanty, now finished her story, padded away, leaving the kits with their mouths open in shock. Epilogue: Now, dear Reader, do not sit there and cry for poor CrossedFlame. But if you happen to see me, or Saltpaw, show respect. We have had many trials.