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Spunk & Bite

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3.92 of 5 stars 3.92  ·  rating details  ·  571 ratings  ·  72 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 me
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ebook, Large Print, 288 pages
Published January 6th 2009 by Random House Reference (first published November 1st 2005)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,694)
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Bakari
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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Lauren Mitchell
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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Maggie
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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Rachel
Jun 19, 2009 Rachel rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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
Mel
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 Tolle
Sep 24, 2008 Audrey Tolle rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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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Kathryn
Jun 20, 2008 Kathryn rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  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.
Joe
Jun 07, 2010 Joe rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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.
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.
Katy Wilmotte
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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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.
Jennifer
Feb 15, 2009 Jennifer rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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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Wingedbeaver
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
“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
Allison Arthur
This was really difficult to get through, because it's not a great book to just sit down and read. It's much more helpful as a writing reference or source of inspiration when in a creative rut. Plotnik supplies his readers with great tips and ideas for spicing up writing! I'll definitely be using his book as a resource in the future.
Stephanie
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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Ian Rose
Very good in parts, but with a few cringe worthy chapters near the end. It's a good reminder not to abandon the interesting for the sake of some very old rules, but when it gets away from that core message it doesn't have a lot more to say.
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
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.
Brenda Pike
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!
Sarah
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.
Deborah
Not as interesting to read through (as If You Find an Adjective, Kill It was), but still a good book on writing and how to make it more interesting. It's a non-traditional approach, helpful if you are in the process of revising, but not so good just as a book to sit and read straight through. Some funny things in it make me pay more attention to language, though.
Girl Underground
Plotnik was guilty of breaking some of his own, though as he said, many rules are best broken. I felt like I was reading an extremely dated manual with some of the slang he plugged in for humor; I hope it was humor, anyway, and not some awkward attempt at hipness. This book is fun and even inspiring for someone who has trouble injecting personal style into writing.
Zevi
This is an awesome book on style and the chapters cover many more writing techniques and in much more depth than the book it strives to surpass, The Elements of Style by Strunk & White. Every writer should have a copy of this book on their desk and also a copy of the book, Red Zen by Jason Earls who used many of the techniques explained in Spunk & Bite.
Karen
Fairly helpful - inspires writers to improve their writing and retire cliches and generally boring writing.

Recommended for: writers (including wannabes), bloggers, lovers of English.
Micah Harding
I stayed up till 4 in the morning reading this book in one sitting. Though I loved it, as an amateur, I feel generally cautious about trying to grow up into punchiness too soon. My guess would be that many young writers grasp at 'spunk and bite' too early and make a mess of things.
Jeanne
Aug 24, 2007 Jeanne rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone looking to refresh their writing style
Spunk & Bite manages to spit both boldly and politely in EB Strunk's eye. The writing style is accessible- it's not a dry grammar manual at all. In fact, it's as entertaining as it is informative and thought-provoking. Definitely worth the read, for me at least.
Cathy Sweitzer
Jun 15, 2007 Cathy Sweitzer added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: writers
Strunk and White unchained. If you have ever felt the tiniest bit intimidated by the etiquette of The Elements of Style, this book is for you. It tramples the holy of holies of style books with dirty Adidas. A writing book that frees rather than binds.
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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
More about Arthur Plotnik...
The Elements of Editing Better Than Great: A Plenitudinous Compendium of Wallopingly Fresh Superlatives The Elements of Expression: Putting Thoughts into Words, revised The Urban Tree Book: An Uncommon Field Guide for City and Town Elements of Authorship: Unabashed Advice, Undiluted Experience, and Unadulterated Inspiration for Writers and Writers-To-Be

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