Thursday, February 13, 2014


Why not? If it works better than the alternative, then that’s exactly what you should do. To do less would make you a hack, not a writer.

As Lauren Kessler and Duncan McDonald say in WHEN WORDS COLLIDE (Wadsworth Publishing Company), which is available on Amazon for—ahem—a whopping $5$ to $98, “We feel the same way about this as we do about cracking open fresh eggs with only one hand. Do it as long as you don’t make a mess. Scrambling a sentence to put a preposition in the center of it often creates an awkward construction. Example:

“This is a sentence up with which a writer will not put.
“You’re looking for clarity, right? Isn’t that what good writing is about?”

Their point is well taken.

The book is considered a media writer’s guide to grammar and style; but to me, it’s the guide to grammar and style. (Of course, I bought it back in the stone ages when ink wasn’t so costly.)

Now many of you know, THE CHICAGO MANUAL OF STYLE is the first book I recommend when anyone mentions wanting to learn the breath of a copyeditor. But have you seen that book? Held it UP? It’s probably half my weight (and if you believe that, I’ve got a car you might be interested in.). The CMS is heavy. If you’re thinking of hiking down to the park while you edit a few pages, this is not the book you’ll want to tote along. But WHEN WORDS COLLIDE is a paperback, spiral bound and easy to lift.

What’s more, it isn’t filled with such scholarly language that you picture a thin-nosed, persnickety old man wearing spectacles and sharing his superior wisdom as you study. It’s filled with logic about sentence clarity, but in a way that everybody gets. Like the comment about cracking fresh eggs, it’s entertaining. If readers are entertained while they learn, they might take the time and effort to learn a tad more. Along with the giggle some of the comments will give you, the concise language and interesting examples are ones that will stay with the reader, rather than be forgotten at the turn of the page. That makes the resource worth more than the cost of ink.

Would I pay 98 bucks for it today? Yeah, as long as my husband wasn’t looking.

Note: I'd probably opt for the used price, if the book was in good condition.

Happy writing!


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