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

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

by Constance Hale


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"Vex, Hex, Smash, Smooch is more than just a writing handbook; it’s a key to unlocking every writer’s innate creativity by offering countless paths to verbal expressiveness." —San Francisco Chronicle

Great sentences pivot on great verbs. In Vex, Hex, Smash, Smooch, Constance Hale, best-selling author of Sin and Syntax, zeroes in on verbs that make bad writing sour and good writing sing. Each chapter in Vex, Hex, Smash, Smooch features four sections: “Vex” tackles tough syntax, “Hex” debunks myths about verbs, “Smash” warns of bad writing habits, and “Smooch” showcases exemplary writing. A veteran journalist and writing teacher, Hale peppers her advice with pop-culture references and adapts her expertise for writers of every level. With examples ranging from the tangled clauses of Henry James and the piercing insight of Joan Didion to the punchy gerunds of the Coen brothers and the passive verbs of CEOs on trial, Vex, Hex, Smash, Smooch offers a reenergized take on the “little despot of the sentence.”

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393347050
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 10/14/2013
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 774,554
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.60(h) x 1.00(d)

About 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,

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Power and Pizzazz of Verbs 9

1 Me Tarzan, You Jane: The world before verbs 23

2 Up! Cup! Tadatz! Our first sentences 42

3 Bastard Verbs: A new angle on the Angles 63

4 Grammar Wars: The tension between chaos and control 83

5 I Came, I Saw, I Conquered: The dynamics of verbs 104

6 Verb Tenses: A rose is a rose is a rose. Until it dies. Then it was a rose 127

7 Passive Restraint: Understanding the voice of verbs 151

8 Be There or Be Square: Time to master moods 174

9 Predicate Etiquette: Making the back end of a sentence behave 193

10 Verbal Dexterity: Playing with participles and other cross-dressers 219

11 Two-Stroke Engines: Pair a verb with a particle and-presto! 242

12 Headache Verbs: Odd usages and other sources of confusion 260

Epilogue: Got Style? 286

Appendix 1 Chomp-or, um, Chomsky-on this 297

Appendix 2 Each of these cases are complicated. Is complicated? 300

Appendix 3 When it comes to dictionaries, be polygamous 303

Appendix 4 Those sneaky irregular verbs 307

Appendix 5 Phrasal verbs: What's up, what's down 314

Appendix 6 More migraines 325

Notes 335

Selected Bibliography 353

Acknowledgments 363

Permissions 369

Index 371

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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
See my post at res one. LICHENTAIL
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Can i be a judge to?
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Who are the winners?
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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.