Understanding Style

Understanding Style : Practical Ways to Improve Your Writing

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An ideal text for courses in advanced composition, Understanding Style uncovers some of the inherent mystery of style and explains how to craft good sentences and combine them into writing that is clear and readable. This unique book adapts the findings of modern linguistic research into detailed writing advice seldom found elsewhere. Though it emphasizes the "sound" of the written voice throughout, the text also covers diction, coherence, and sentence variety. Joe Glaser includes numerous open-ended exercises drawn from such areas as business, history, and popular science to encourage students to practice as they learn. Each chapter concludes with a boxed summary for quick reference and a "Your Writing" prompt, asking students to apply these principles directly to their own work. Appendices include: a glossary of writing terms; a brief dictionary of usage; a guide to punctuation; and, a detailed index. The Second Edition brings the text up-to-date and emphasizes recent advances in word processing and the Internet. The author also plans to update references throughout and include online resources. The new edition will also include a new chapter which discusses the basic distinction between the complete subjects of sentences from their predicates. In addition, the author has updated the downloadable exercises, useful writing links, and other tips found on his personal website.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 288 pages
  • 139.7 x 208.28 x 15.24mm | 317.51g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • Revised
  • 2nd Revised edition
  • 0195379497
  • 9780195379495
  • 1,191,315

Table of contents

Preface ; Part one: What Style Is: Good and Bad Writing ; Chapter 1: Voices You Want To Listen To: Elements of ; Written Voice ; Voice and the Sound Qualities of Writing ; Voice and the Writing Situation ; Grammar and Voice ; Diction and Voice ; Avoiding Discriminatory Language ; A Gallery of Voices ; Points to Remember ; Chapter 2: Voices That Put You Off: Common Modes of Bad Writing ; The Professional Terror ; The Creative Genius ; The Sleepwalker ; The Clunker ; Points To Remember ; Chapter 3: Two Common Problems: Overwriting and Underwriting ; Eliminating Deadwood ; How Much Cutting Is Enough? ; Varieties of Deadwood ; Verbal Filler ; Authorspeak ; Overexplaining ; A Caution Against Underwriting ; Points To Remember ; Part Two: Accurate, Effective Word Choice ; Chapter 4: Finding the Right Words: What's in a Name? ; A World of Words ; Types of Diction ; Formal and Informal Words ; General and Particular Words ; Abstract and Concrete Words ; Long and Short Words ; Learned and Commonplace Words ; Points To Remember ; Chapter 5: Finding Fresh Words: Cliches, Usage, Quoting, Figurative Language ; Cliches Beat a Hasty Retreat ; Usage Cranks and Usage Demons ; Some Notes on Quoting ; Figurative Language ; Points To Remember ; Part Three: Clear Subjects and Lively Verbs ; Chapter 6: Subjects and Predicates ; Subjects ; Standard Sentence Order and "You-Understood" ; Subjects in Dependent Clauses ; Types of Dependent Clauses ; Coordinate Clauses ; Predicates ; Multiple Predicates and Predicates in Dependent Clauses ; Points To Remember ; Chapter 7: Naming Definite Actors and Actions ; Naming Definite Actors ; Avoiding Indefinite Actors ; The Problem of Nominalizations ; Naming Definite Actions ; Avoiding Weak Verbs: to be ; Other Weak Verbs ; Unnecessary Auxiliaries ; Unnecessary Passive Verbs ; Keeping Actors and Actions Together ; Points To Remember ; Part Four: Making Connections: Coherence and Emphasis ; Chapter 8: Coherence: Making Sentences Connect ; Maintaining Related Grammatical Subjects ; Patterns of Old and New Information ; Reinforcing Coherence with Transitional Devices ; Reinforcing Coherence with Coordinate Structures ; Reinforcing Coherence with Subordinate Structures ; Points To Remember ; Chapter 9: Assigning Emphasis ; Nuclear Emphasis ; Coming to a Good End ; Nuclear Stress in Lesser Breath Units ; A Note on Punctuation ; Patterns of Emphasis ; Using Grammatical Transformations To Shift ; Emphasis ; Emphasis Through Grammatical Bulk ; Points To Remember ; Part Five: Changing the Pace: Rhythmic and Grammatical Variety ; Chapter 10: Controlling Rhythm ; Sentence Rhythms ; Types of Breath Units ; Avoiding Overlong Breath Units ; Using Breath Units to Control Rhythm ; Using Stress to Control Rhythm ; Using Long and Short Words to Control Rhythm ; Points To Remember ; Chapter 11: Grammatical Variety ; How Sentences Become Complex ; Grammatical Variety in Context ; Varying Sentence Structure with Nominals ; Varying Sentence Structure with Adjectivals ; Varying Sentence Structure with Adverbials ; Varying Sentence Structure with Parallel Construction ; Grammatical Emphasis ; Points To Remember ; Part Six: Quick Fixes ; Chapter 12: Rules of Thumb ; Start most sentences with the subject ; Make your subjects definitely named actors ; Make your verbs name definite actions ; Write mostly in independent clauses ; Keep subjects and verbs close together ; Keep verbs and complements close together ; Use single verbs with multiple subjects. Use single subjects with multiple verbs. ; Favor the active voice ; Choose positive rather than negative constructions ; Focus each sentence on the ideas expressed by the subject and predicate ; Mix long and short sentences ; End sentences with a bang, not a whimper ; Points To Remember ; Appendix A: A Brief Dictionary of Usage ; Appendix B: Alphabetical Guide to Punctuation ; Appendix C: Glossaryshow more

About Joe Glaser

Joe Glaser is Professor Emeritus of English at Western Kentucky University. He is the author of Writer's Workbook (1995) and Writer's Handbook (1984), as well as several tranlastions of classic works.show more

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25 ratings
3.84 out of 5 stars
5 32% (8)
4 24% (6)
3 40% (10)
2 4% (1)
1 0% (0)
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