Perfecting Your Prose—A Guide to Improved Writing. 2004, ISBN-13: 978-1-930554-01-6 (ISBN-10: 1-930554-01-X), 208 pages, 6" x 9", trade paperback, $14.95
Gary Michael Smith
This book exists as a guide to help writers expand their linguistic knowledge and to remind them of both common as well as obscure grammatical rules and conventions, thereby improving the overall structure and content of their prose. A combination of writing instruction and grammar handbook, the sections within address a variety of linguistic and structural constructions and examples helpful for developing prose as clearly and succinctly as possible. It should be understood, however, that the reader is expected to already have a working knowledge of the basics of grammar, and rudimentary definitions of various parts of speech are not defined. A grammar book such as the Hodge’s Harbrace College Handbook should be referenced for definitions of verbs, nouns, adjectives, etc.
Reviews: “Gary Smith’s Perfecting Your Prose is an excellent companion for writers, especially those seeking a concise and thorough review of the elements of composition. Logically organized with lively examples, Smith’s handbook reflects a solid understanding of the complexity of the writing process.” —Barbara C. Ewell, Professor of English, Loyola University New Orleans
“Every author who has ever put pen to paper (or in this day and age, their fingers to computer keyboard) knows they have room for improvement when it comes to expressing themselves. Perfecting Your Prose—A Guide To Improved Writing by writer, editor, educator and consultant Gary Michael Smith addresses the diverse grammar and writing issues of diction, description, the syntax of the well constructed sentence, and the orderly flow of the essay. Perfecting Your Prose covers style mechanics guidelines fully applicable to both nonfiction and fiction writing, and is an utterly invaluable self-teaching tool for high school and college students as well as aspiring and professional writers.” —Midwest Book Review
Part One The Writing Process
1 Subjects and Topics, Audience, and Types of
2 Grammar and Usage, Style, and Mechanics
Part One highlights the overall writing process to include the difference between subjects and topics while defining the audience and various types of writing. Grammar, style, and mechanics are also addressed, as is how to develop an abstract, summary, or outline in planning a writing project.
Part Two Diction
3 Meaning, Clarity, and Simplicity
5 Figurative Language
6 Atypical Words and Collocations
Part Two explores linguistic etymology by defining meaning, figurative language, and atypical words and collocations, i.e., the way words and other elements are arranged or juxtaposed. Writing with clarity, simplicity, and concision is explained to help writers prepare text that is clear and comprehendible.
Part Three Description, Narration, and Punctuation
7 Descriptive Writing and Narrative
9 Other Marks of Punctuation
Part Three offers advice on using different types of descriptive writing while providing several meanings of narrative. Point of view and tone in narrative are also included. This section also provides valuable information on punctuation rules and conventions helpful in developing text that is creative without being confusing.
Part Four The Sentence
10 The Sentence Defined
11 Styles of Sentences
12 The Well-Constructed Sentence
Part Four delves into types and styles of sentences, and gives writers specific methods for designing well-written sentences.
Part Five The Paragraph
14 Developing Effective Paragraphs
Part Five goes a step further, detailing paragraph coherence and flow, ending with particular methods of paragraph development.
Part Six The Essay
15 The Beginning, Middle, and Closing
16 Drafting, Revising, Editing, and Proofing
Part Six guides the writer through the primary components of the essay, and provides the writer with the necessary tools for drafting, revising, editing, and knowing when to stop.
The book ends with lists of resources such as other writing references, dictionaries, thesauri, and online grammar sources.
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