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

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

by Constance Hale
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
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, California.

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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