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Spunk & Bite: A writer's guide to punchier, more engaging language & style

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3.9  ·  Rating Details ·  740 Ratings  ·  85 Reviews
Today's writer needs more than just a solid knowledge of usage and composition to write successfully. Bestselling author Arthur Plotnik reveals the secrets to attention-grabbing, unforgettable writing, in this trade paperback edition.

Updated with all-new writing exercises, Spunk & Bite will help writers take books, articles, business reports, memos, and even e-mail mes
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Kindle Edition, 274 pages
Published (first published November 1st 2005)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Lauren Mitchell
Feb 16, 2012 Lauren Mitchell rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I got this as a Christmas gift and thought the title was witty. Unfortunately, the title was the best part of the book. Originally published in 2005 and reprinted in 2007, I have to wonder whether the author didn't realise that at some point the members of Generation Y, about whom he was not particularly kind, would potentially pick up the book in hope of some new insights.

I was at a loss to find any new insights in this book. It seemed that the book rehashed advice I've read time and again in o
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Bakari
Feb 21, 2012 Bakari rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Spunk and Bite Review

*Spunk & Bite* is a rhythm and jazz resource of techniques and suggestions for bringing writing alive. So much of my daily articles consist of actionless verbs (have, to be, are, would have, should have), with little no surprises or engaging fun for the reader. While I may write straight forward and complex sentences, my syntax and paragraphs simply tie one thought to the next. My writing (like this review) is nice, but not memorable or engaging.

You might think in the f
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Rachel
Jun 19, 2009 Rachel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: The 'Secret' Writing Group :)
"Some developing writers feel uncomfortable showing their edgiest sides to the world. It may seem like self-exposure, even exhibitionism; to the extent that artists cannot separate themselves from their creations, it is in fact a little of both. But one can distance the artist-self from the non-artist self, letting the one burst out in its most unpredictable nakedness, while the other goes quietly about its business. Call it the courage to write, or a functionally split personality, but this is ...more
Maggie
Oct 22, 2009 Maggie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Plotnik has written a wonderful primer for writers desiring to move beyond competent writing into exceptional writing. He covers a variety of topics that, once mastered, will enhance a writer's ability. This is one of those books that should be owned so it can be reviewed again and again as one traverses the writing skill trail.

It is true that Plotnik's own writing is perhaps too spunky and too bitey, moving into the realm of bashing the reader over the head with too many exciting words and phra
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Al Macy
Dec 08, 2016 Al Macy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library-book
The writing in this book is so good, it's inspirational. I got some good ideas from it, but not enough to get it to four stars.
Mel
Aug 23, 2008 Mel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: craft
While the title implies the text is a parody of the classic text, The Elements of Style by Strunk and White, it is actually a style manual unto itself. Plotnik discusses, in encyclopedic form, ways of approaching writing, engaging, readers, and who to look to as modern examples. He discusses; tense, diction, dialogue, foreign language use, idioms, and many others testy writing issues. The writing is sharp and edgy, filled with relevant and modern examples. E. B. White would be proud. This is a t ...more
Audrey
Jun 14, 2015 Audrey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Writers who want to give their work that extra edge.
This how-to guide for the wannabe creative writer lives up to its name. Not only does the text have spunk and bite, it's brimming with advice on exactly how to add spark to your writing. From practical information such as a list of vocabulary building websites to a discussion on the trend of omitting quotation marks, Plotnik covers a lot of ground. He also delves into innovative techniques like creating new words (often based on combinations of existing terms).
I checked it out from the library,
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Christine Palau
The book is a breeze. Skimmed some stuff; skipped a few redundant paragraphs. It's a perfect before-bed-so-conked-out-I-can't-read-a-novel book, especially if you're working on editing your own novel. It reinforces what you probably already know in a straightforward and often funny manner. And best of all, he uses examples from some of my favorite spunky writers: Gary Shteyngart, Zadie Smith, Maureen Dowd, etc. Think of it as a Strunk and White rape-shower.
Joe
Jun 07, 2010 Joe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Writers
Recommended to Joe by: Amazon.com
This book makes a nice companion the Strunk & White (AKA The Elements of Style). Where Strunk and White gives you the rules of grammar and usage, Spunk & Bite teaches you how to creatively break the rules. I'd recommend this book to any writer looking to add interest to their locution. As the book says, it is all about "locution, locution, locution". I found the chapter on writing for Gen-Y a little less than useful, but otherwise, the book was pretty useful.
Kathryn
Jun 20, 2008 Kathryn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Prose writers
I picked this up for the title, which I love, having studiously avoided Strunck and White.

This one is entertaining, which is surprising for a 'writer's guide'. But Plotnik practices what he preaches, and there are some fun turns of phrase.

I find myself waxing uber-prosaic after reading a chapter of this book, and I'm studiously avoiding peppering my emails with over-extended metaphors no one wants to hear.

Especially if you're writing a book, this is a good one to read.
Timothy Schirmer
For me nothing was very memorable about this book. I wouldn't say it was useless, maybe something seeped into my subconscious, books have a way of doing that, but I much prefer Bird by Bird! if you're looking for direction in your writing!
Maryalice
Mar 17, 2009 Maryalice is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
So far, so good. The homework is actually FUN.
Ian
Dec 03, 2016 Ian rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
If the contrarian in you has ever chafed under the strictures of the venerable Strunk & White, reading Plotnik is a much-needed catharsis. Valuable meditation on rules and when to bend or break them.
Kristian Wilson
Nov 16, 2015 Kristian Wilson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Whenever younger writers ask me for the best books on the craft, I always recommend The Elements of Style. Yes, it's stodgy and impractical at times, but it gives new writers a great, rules-based foundation on which to build their careers. Arthur Plotnik's Spunk & Bite demolishes that building to construct something bigger and better.

I'm really not being hyperbolic. Spunk & Bite is a manual on rewriting the rules of sentence construction. Plotnik employs --- and, of course, breaks --- hi

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Jennifer
Feb 15, 2009 Jennifer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: All writers and poets
I first heard about this author from a fellow blogger on MySpace, . She had an opportunity to interview Arthur Plotnik who was wiling to do an interview and blog it on MySpace. Plotnik's personality, charm and wit captivated me. I needed to check out this book for the sake of my own betterment.

Plotnik visited my blog and we became amiable. He sent me my first copy of this publication in 2006 with a very special note of encouragement and enthusiasm for my poetry. I later bought (2007 ?) the softc
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Chiddzy
Apr 11, 2016 Chiddzy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When gifted this book by my English teacher my friend immediately asked: I wonder what this says about your writing skills? I took no offense
I'd been meaning to step up my writing game and this nifty little gem helped me reach the next level. As a junior in high school just trying to write good well, this is my take.
Positive
This book is a reliable and detailed tool great for aspiring authors and anyone who just wants to learn to write better. It offers helpful tips and suggestions to spicing u
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Wingedbeaver
Jun 12, 2012 Wingedbeaver rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 48-in-2012
Spunk and Bite is a book about writing. If you have no interest in the subject or improving you're own technique then there is really no reason for you to even bother picking this book up. That's not to say it's dry reading, it's actually a quite humorous and fun read, it's just probably not for everyone. The book is written as a response to the classic The Elements of Style, widely know as Strunk & White and considered the writing bible. Plotnik does an entertaining job pointing out where ...more
Stuart
Jun 09, 2013 Stuart rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“I found this book to be very useful. I loved how the author incorporated examples of each topic that he was discussing in each chapter. My major complaint about this book is by the end the author, in my opinion looses his edge in keeping the book interesting and it became more difficult to read by the last few chapters. But I will most definitely hold onto this book and look to it for more guidance fairly often. I would recommend this book to college students, high school students, professors, ...more
Katy Wilmotte
Jul 02, 2014 Katy Wilmotte rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A clever, entertaining little book that offers no writing cures, but rather suggestions on how to breathe new vitality into your words. In short, concise chapters, Plotnik addresses common stumbling blocks for writers in the modern era, such as the use of semicolons, the ubiquitousness of dangling modifiers, and whether to set a story in present or past tense. Instead of labeling new writing trends 'good or bad', he simply gives the pros and cons of each style and their uses.
Read this book even
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Stephanie
Aug 03, 2011 Stephanie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: writing
Ironically, Plotnik warns writers about the danger of alienating their audience with niche references and bloated exaggerations, then proceeds to use a few himself. But otherwise, his writing is exemplary. And that's what his book is about, anyway. Being bold. Taking risks. Doing a cannonball into the stagnant pond of writing.

Spunk & Bite is an uplifting read for any aspiring or practicing writer. The book teaches that it's okay to break rules, even if it means a blemish on your record. The
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Donna
May 08, 2015 Donna rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library, nonfiction
I enjoyed The Elements of Expression, but this one's more like a collection of occasionally useful essays than an organized exploration of style.

The sections that focused on nuts-and-bolts issues like intensifiers or semicolons were helpful. Some of the opinion piece chapters were fine too, though they sometimes didn't credit the reader with much common sense. There were also some passages that left me scratching my head or feeling actively embarrassed for the author. And despite being newer th
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Cristine Eastin
Mar 14, 2016 Cristine Eastin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
How amusing is it?: a book about writing by Arthur Plotnik. Sounds like an author troll doll. But it IS amusing, sometimes almost side-splittingly so. A very good book on choices to put spunk and bite into writing. "Spunk & Bite" is part language, part "g-g-grammar", part editing, part comedy.

Only one chapter hit an odd note; you'll find it. I kept waiting for the snarky comment that would make tongue-in-cheek his espousal of a particular approach, but it didn't come. It seemed out of place.
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Nikki
Mar 06, 2015 Nikki rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Meh.

I agree with the earlier reviews that suggested I skip this one and go for some of the guides he criticizes in it. I mean, so much of what is in here is common sense, or something you learn when you've gotten a degree in language usage or whatever. I already have the degree and the basics down, so I was hoping for a bit more than just telling me to apply the basics. I mean, there's more to it than that. Also, I disagree with his suggestion to not use adjectives sparingly. Sometimes, adjecti
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Jennifer
Notably less iconoclastic than it bills itself on the cover and in the introduction, and that's a good thing because I love my Strunk & White just fine. Lots of interesting examples and some thought-provoking chapters about different writing techniques that are unorthodox but work given the proper context. Ends on something of a fizzle as the last few chapters seem to be mostly about "positioning" and "marketing" yourself rather than writing well, but the middle was solid.
Richard
Knowing that you don't have to strictly follow every rule of writing, as established by Strung and White as well as nearly every English teacher I ever had, isn't the same as knowing how to strike out on your own without striking out. This was an easy to read book with many examples of bad, good and better writing. Chapters are broken down into many aspects of writing and are meant to be read in any order. For a writing just starting out it was a good book to pick through.
Barbara
Sep 23, 2007 Barbara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: about_writing
What a gloriously interesting book on grammar and style. Plotnik is going to be on my show next month and I bet he's as fun to talk to as he is to read. I learn from his columns in The Writer magazine (which is ending, I hear!), and I learn from this book. I always love checking out new books on writing and so many leave me cold, but this one is a keeper. This is a book I will always be reading because it's a book to also be read in pieces.
Daniel McCort
Jul 26, 2016 Daniel McCort rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is rich with rudimentary/elementary "elements of style," which the title clearly parodies from the the over-hyped Strunk and White. There is nothing exceptionally groundbreaking here, but it does have a warm simplicity in its take-it-or-leave-it grammatical devises, such as the hyper-hyphenation I just exhibited. For avid readers and writers this book serves as nothing more than a reminder of applied writer's skills, and nothing more. Nevertheless I enjoyed it very much.
Brenda Pike
Feb 12, 2009 Brenda Pike rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Arthur Plotnik veers from the blindingly obvious, which I learned in basic English classes and could read in any style book, to good advice exaggerated to ridiculousness. The quotes he uses as examples come from authors such as Danielle Steele and Dave Eggers—not the sort of writers I would consider role models. To make matters worse, he natters on at such length that the stupid book takes forever to get through!
Holly
Jan 07, 2015 Holly rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: school, nonfiction
ok. creative and inspiring for writers to try something out of the box. totally lost interest in the chapter for writing for a specific generation. i don't think you can stereotype an entire generation. classics transcends its specific era and it does fine across multiple generations. kind of disappointed that a clockwork orange was not cited at all.
Sarah
Apr 06, 2010 Sarah rated it really liked it
I read this on a writing retreat while contemplating revisions of a first draft, and it really helped me revitalize my prose! Amazing examples, and very inspirational. My manuscript wouldn't be the same without it!

The only chapter I had a hard time with was the feng shui one, which had a "you'll know it when you see it" tone that didn't seem to fit with the rest of the book.
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Arthur Plotnik is the author of eight books, including "Spunk & Bite: A Writer's Guide to Bold, Contemporary Style" and two Book-of-the-Month Club selections: "The Elements of Expression" (revised and expanded in 2012) and "The Elements of Editing." Among his many publications are award-winning essays, biography, short fiction, and poetry. He studied under Philip Roth at the Iowa (Graduate) Wr ...more
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