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The Curious Case of the Misplaced Modifier: How to Solve the Mysteries of Weak Writing
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The Curious Case of the Misplaced Modifier: How to Solve the Mysteries of Weak Writing

3.67 of 5 stars 3.67  ·  rating details  ·  81 ratings  ·  20 reviews
Most people think that good grammar leads to good writing. But the truth is that while good writing may be technically correct, it's also strong, concise, and specific.This guide identifies the seven writing weaknesses that editors everywhere must fix again and again; in fact, almost all of an editor's corrections on any piece of writing will come from the material covered ...more
Hardcover, 152 pages
Published April 11th 2006 by Writer's Digest Books
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♥ Ibrahim ♥

This book will help somebody like me so that I can think English when I am doing English writing and not to fall into the trap of Arabic thought patterns. Whereas we are kings of wordiness and queens of redundancy in Arabic, not so in English. Good English writing has to be be concise. In Arabic, we learn toward nominalization. We might say:

Happiness was evident on the face of his Highness the king.

Good English writing would exhort us not to nominalize, but instead specify who is what and who di
...more
Jing
Feb 12, 2010 Jing rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Writers who still want to learn
Recommended to Jing by: Becka Sutton
Shelves: writing
This book covers one of the most basic tools in learning how to write readable fiction; active voice. The author states that many writers use weak sentence structure and could benefit from her seven guidelines on how to write effective prose.

There are seven chapters plus an appendix of "writing misdemeanors". I found most of the value in the chapters and it touched on things I forgot or only use a little. Each chapter has an exercise that's helps you understand the topic. There is an answer key
...more
Irfan Mirza
Update August 7, 2012: Although the content of the book should allow a largely self taught author to feel satisfied with one's investment, of both time and money, but the most enjoyable part of the book remains the presentation of content. Whosesoever taste, the author or the publisher, in presentation and layout it reflects, the book, with its brilliant formatting, makes the whole process of knowledge acquisition an extremely enjoyable activity. It definitely offers a welcome respite from the g ...more
Ryan Dejonghe
This isn't your typical English Grammar book. The author tries to enliven traditional rules by listing ten unforgivable crimes committed against the English language. She cross examines each heinous crime, such as Passive Voice and Nominalization, in thorough detail.

Do not expect to become a grammarian in one reading. Instead, I would recommend reading through the book once, but then keeping it available for quick reference access and future memory reinforcement.

The major downside of leaving a
...more
Guido Henkel
Bonnie Trenga's book was a nice little refresher and also offers up very helpful tips for your everyday writing.

In her introduction she says that as a professional book editor she keep encountering the same errors and problems over and over again and decided to write this book in response. I am glad she did, because it gave me the chance to examine my own writing a little more critically and see if I have been falling into the same pitfalls as the countless writers she's been dealing with.

The st
...more
Anita
Yes, this is a grammar book. Yes, I read it for school. Yes, I liked it. In fact, this is one of the best improve-your-writing books (correctly placed hypens) I've read. It is fun, gives good tips, and even better, has exercises to help you practice what you've learned. Okay, I realize that might not be for everybody, but this was a pleasant surprise for me. We are so impressed at school that we are going to be writing some curriculum for our students using this book. Ms. Trenga not only sold me ...more
Amy
Trenga uses detective stories throughout this book to illustrate common mistakes people make that weakens their writing. The detective stories drag somewhat because they are all poorly written to illustrate her point, and the reader is supposed to rewrite them after learning how to improve them. Her advice is accurate and nuanced enough to prevent students from overfixing in their attempts to improve their writing. I would recommend this highly to be used as part of a writing class. Trenga's adv ...more
Cécilia L.
Short but concise and very insightful.
Sweetp-1
I'm doing Nano and I wanted to grab a book about writing from the library today. Everything looked incredibly daunting! This one caught my eye and it was exactly what I was looking for - quick read, unpretentious style, good use of examples, interesting format (loved the detective stories and the rap sheet). Nice timely reminder on how to keep your writing interesting (though probably not as useful if you are looking for a grammar guide.)
Adam
That it was short and to the point was the main reason I continued reading. Trenga gives advice on how to avoid and fix the most common grammatical "mistakes" that she encounters as a copywriter, but it was so basic. Advice included making sure to avoid too much use of the passive voice, and making sure not to be ridiculously wordy. Not so insightful, but could be more helpful to someone who wasn't already interested in grammar.
Heather
As a high school English teacher, I found this book incredibly helpful! It gave me a different perspective and refreshing view on something that is normally quite bland and boring. I immediately took notes and turned them into a PowerPoint list of reminders for students who are repeat offenders to the common writing errors discussed in the book. An excellent tool for writers, teachers, and editors.
Laura
It's a good idea, but maybe the task of making a English stylebook interesting is too big a task. The Curious Case of the Misplaced Modifier is a safe wade back into improving your writing for one long out of school and, when you decide to get serious, an ease into the perennial standard Strunk & White's Elements of Style.
Monica
Great book for learning how to vary your sentences when writing. She advises against using passive voice to the point of being vague. However, she does advise that it is ok to use passive voice sometimes, you just have to determine when it's appropriate. I wish this book had been longer with better examples.
Batter
I agree with most of what the author says in the book, but found it way too elementary. I would recommend this only to anyone who struggled through junior high school language arts or who has at best a poor to non-native grasp of English grammar and composition.
Katherine
I kept trying, but just could not enjoy this book. Maybe for someone who is more grammar-focused, this book would be a delight. But for me it was a drudgery. I finally made it through the whole thing. Whew! I think I'll stick to fiction.
d
This book is great! Each chapter explains a writing guideline and suggestions for stronger writing, along with a poorly written mini-mystery for the student to re-write. It really helps them understand the concepts.
Cathrine Bonham
It's the entertaining way to learn all of those boring grammar rules that your English teacher kept hit you over the head with.
Denise
A really great book that covers all the grammatical mistakes that we commonly make, it was extremely helpful.
Yvonne
Strengthen your writing and have an enjoyable read while learning grammar and word usage.
Gato
Good book on making writing better.
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