2.0 out of 5 starsAmusing, sometimes helpful, but overwrought
1 February 2019 - Published on Amazon.com
For those who do editing, this book offers useful guidance, covering topics in a clever, snarky way. I finally know when to capitalize (or not capitalize) an entry after a colon: Use a capital if the entry is a complete sentence; otherwise, not (e.g., lists). And curious items on the use of B.C. and A.D.; or when or when not to write out numbers.
Oddly, the text is often clunky or irritating because the author too often tries to be amusing. I'm on chapter 7 and have already found some copy-editing errors (odd, since the author claims to be so attentive, and his list of thanks at the end of the book goes on for 8 pages--with this many interested parties, one would think someone would have spotted the blunders). The most annoying feature of the book relates to the footnotes: First, there are many too many and their font size is much too small; second, many of the footnotes are smart aleck and unnecessary; third, the symbols for the footnotes are tiny, tiny asterisks, crossbars, and double crossbars that are difficult to see as one is reading, with the result that, getting to the bottom of a page, one realizes there are yet more notes not read because the reader hasn't seen the minuscule symbol to which the note refers. Highly annoying and out of sync with the author's emphasis on verbal clarity and visual appropriateness.
Just read chapter 7, "The Realities of Fiction," and am becoming irritated: If we trust what's said here, most writers are oblivious and dumb. Odd that a copy editor is making such claims. One begins to realize why most copy editors never make it as writers. If you want a better recent book on writing and editing, I recommend Mary Norris's BETWEEN YOU AND ME (Norton, 2015)--clearer, more graceful, and more enticing.
Others have noted that this book is useful and entertaining. So it is. I might have given it five stars if I owned it in paper, but I don't. I have the Kindle version, in which the footnotes are maddening. You can't easily get to them one by one and collectively they just read like extensions of each section's text. Their content should have been incorporated into the chapters. I don't see a reason for single footnote in the whole frustrating thing. What were they thinking? Dunno.
5.0 out of 5 starsWhat a marvelous collection of tips on clear and compelling writing
31 January 2019 - Published on Amazon.com
And great fun to read.
Mr. Dreyer is a copy editor, and clearly loves the English language, American flavored.
I was an English major in college, went on to law school, and devoured books on clear writing. I hope that my Reviews show a bit of evidence that those efforts were not in vain.
I returned time after time to Fowler and for legal matters the Harvard Blue Book.
Dreyer's book belongs in that pantheon. Consider his essay on "unique". As a stamp collector, I've cringed time after time when one of my fellow collectors used and overused that word to describe one of their treasures in their exhibits.
Here is Dreyer's take:
VERY UNIQUE In the 1906 edition of The King’s English, H. W. Fowler declared—and he was neither the first nor the last person to so declare—“A thing is unique, or not unique; there are no degrees of uniqueness; nothing is ever somewhat or rather unique, though many things are almost or in some respects unique.”
I will allow that something can be virtually unique, though many things are almost or in some respects unique.”
I will allow that something can be virtually unique but can’t be more than—not very, not especially, not really—unique. You might as well hang a KICK ME sign on your writing.*12
My editor wants me to tell you here never to use the words “yummy,” “panties,” or “guac.” Mission accomplished.
Dreyer, Benjamin. Dreyer's English (p. 165). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
Great point. Great writing. This is a book to treasure, and I find a book that I enjoy reading on my iPhone -- dip in for a page or two and it always cheers me up to do so.