Words Fail Me Review

Words Fail Me: What Everyone Who Writes Should Know About Writing
by Patricia T. O'Conner
Harcourt Brace, September 1999.
Trade Paperback, 240 pages.
ISBN: 0151003718

Words Fail Me: What Everyone Who Writes Should Know About Writing by Patricia T. O'Conner

Former New York Times Book Review editor Patricia T. O'Conner is back with a follow-up to her bestselling and valuable grammar reference, Woe is I. In this latest release, she tackles common writing problems and discusses elements of good writing. O'Conner is especially perturbed by the amount of poor writing these days, which is even more obvious because of the Internet and email where everyone's glaring grammar and usage mistakes are on display for the world to see.

In the author's own words the book is "about techniques for making poor writing presentable and good writing better. Think of it as a user's manual for words." The book provides helpful tips on writing techniques; it is also extremely enjoyable to read, with interesting anecdotes about famous writers to spice up the examples and chapters with titles such as "Pompous Circumstances: Hold the Baloney," and "The Life of the Party: Verbs that Zing." Some of the subjects covered in the book include: organization, speeches, using big words, provocative verbs, pronouns, modifiers, sentence structure, paragraphs, repetition, grammar, numbers, staying focused, first person, rhythm, humor, emotion and writer's block.

Words Fail Me is a superb reference for student and professional writers alike, with practical advice, relevant examples and O'Conner's brand of witty humor which is sure to keep the reader engrossed in a subject that otherwise might be insufferably dull.

These reference is great for poor writers but also beneficial to good writers as well. As O'Conner herself explains, "even if you're a Tolstoy or a Balzac, a Thurber or a McPhee, it doesn't hurt to learn the rules before you break them." Words Fail Me is well-researched, extremely informative and highly entertaining. Highly recommended.

Ordering information: Amazon.com.

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