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The Writer's Diet: A Guide to Fit Prose
by Helen Sword
University of Chicago Press, 2016
eISBN: 978-0-226-35203-9 | Paper: 978-0-226-35198-8
Library of Congress Classification PE1408.S79 2016
Dewey Decimal Classification 808.042

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ABOUT THIS BOOK
Do your sentences sag? Could your paragraphs use a pick-me-up? If so, The Writer’s Diet is for you! It’s a short, sharp introduction to great writing that will help you energize your prose and boost your verbal fitness.

Helen Sword dispenses with excessive explanations and overwrought analysis. Instead, she offers an easy-to-follow set of writing principles: use active verbs whenever possible; favor concrete language over vague abstractions; avoid long strings of prepositional phrases; employ adjectives and adverbs only when they contribute something new to the meaning of a sentence; and reduce your dependence on four pernicious “waste words”: it, this, that, and there.

Sword then shows the rules in action through examples from William Shakespeare, Emily Dickinson, Martin Luther King Jr., John McPhee, A. S. Byatt, Richard Dawkins, Alison Gopnik, and many more. A writing fitness test encourages you to assess your own writing and get immediate advice on addressing problem areas. While The Writer’s Diet is as sleek and concise as the writing ideals contained within, this slim volume packs a powerful punch.

With Sword’s coaching writers of all levels can strengthen and tone their sentences with the stroke of a pen or the click of a mouse. As with any fitness routine, adhering to the rules requires energy and vigilance. The results, however, will speak for themselves.

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