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It Was the Best of Sentences, It Was the Worst of Sentences: A Writer's Guide to Crafting Killer Sentences
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It Was the Best of Sentences, It Was the Worst of Sentences: A Writer's Guide to Crafting Killer Sentences

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  1,010 ratings  ·  123 reviews
Great writing isn’t born, it’s built—sentence by sentence. But too many writers—and writing guides—overlook this most important unit. The result? Manuscripts that will never be published and writing careers that will never begin.

In this wickedly humorous manual, language columnist June Casagrande uses grammar and syntax to show exactly what makes some sentences great—and o
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Paperback, 214 pages
Published July 27th 2010 by Ten Speed Press (first published January 1st 2010)
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4.13  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,010 ratings  ·  123 reviews


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Tanu Gill
Jul 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
It's a fun book. I really loved the author's examples and ways to unsnarl a wonky sentence. I admit there were times I got cross-eyed. But overall, a good read. :-)
Antigone
Jan 11, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: craft
Yes, I confess, my eyes crossed. My mind wandered. My will faltered several times. You would think, wouldn't you, that the mechanics of communication would be the one area in which we might expect understandable explanations? I mean, if you're good at this, an expert in the field, you should be able to express the knowledge in an inviting and accessible way, yes? Only no. No one does. No one can. Inscrutability is the order of the day.

Casagrande brings a warm, modern-era tone to the mix. It's cl
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Anita
Oct 11, 2010 rated it really liked it
This book is not for everybody. If you are a writer, a grammar snob, word lover, or picky reader this might be for you. It is a reference book disguised as a fun, self-help writing text.
Before you rush out for this one you should know that I spent my last day before vacation looking up the rule for the following scenario: Why do we say: "Turn the television on," but not "Turn on it."? (There is a rule--I found it--and ESL students are always desperate for the rules. I hope someone else asks me
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Thomas Edmund
Nov 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Oh God, I need to use all the things I just learned to craft good sentences to review this book!

JK, Casagrande pens an amazing succinct and enjoyable book on the craft of sentences. I particularly liked the chapters on adverbs and semicolons.

At times the learning was hard going and while a shortish piece I took my time to absorb, and I suspect I'll come back to it again for grammar help (darn gerunds are the bane of my life)

Highly recommended for writers of all ilk, and of course those who hate
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Brenda
Mar 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: writers
Shelves: non-fiction
Great little book full of excellent information. I disagree with her regarding semicolons, but everything else in this book I know I will refer to time and again. Especially when I am revising.
Navneet Kaur
Jan 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
I really liked this book. The author has a way with words that is incomparable. It got a bit too technical for me at some points, but overall, this is one great book. :-)
Kris
Jun 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
Quick, useful, and practical.

Whether you are a teacher, or a tutor, or a student who writes, you need this book. If you write at all in life, you need this book.

Granted, I already knew most of the grammar rules, and grammar is sort of my hobby (it gives me a reason to scold naive students with the rap of a rulebook). So some of these explanations might go over your head. But there's incredibly valuable grammar rules, style advice, and basic writing lessons in here. Know your audience. Write to s
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Miranda Davis
Oct 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: keeper
Honestly, I didn't know what a verb was until studying a foreign language (damned late 1960's "I'm OK, you're OK" elementary educational experiments) so the whole issue of speaking and writing grammatically passed me by when it would have been painless to learn it. Argh. Fortunately, one woman with a good grip on the gnarly weirdness of English and a compassion for the accrued errors in common parlance has weighed in to help. I voluntarily took myself to my college's Center for Academic Assistan ...more
J.C.
Jan 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: writing
Before reading this book I took a grammar course that lasted five months. Yet, what I couldn't understand in that whole five months I was able to comprehend with a lot more ease with this little book. Everything is put in clear terms with plenty of examples, and at the end there's at least three appendixes on grammar, punctuation and word usage that is very useful.

I highly recommend this book not just to creative writers but to anyone who wants to improve their understanding or usage of the sen
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David
May 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Never thought a book about grammar and prose could be a delightful read! I can't put it down.
Lynda Dietz
Jun 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I can’t recommend this book strongly enough. Not only is it informative, but it’s presented in such a way that it’s not tedious. Dare I even say . . . fun?

Though I already knew many of the basics that dealt with punctuation and grammar, I bought this book with the intention of honing my editing skills. Sentence structure is something I’m always on the lookout to improve while editing, so I truly enjoyed the chapters that dealt with word-by-word dissection of ad copy, paragraphs, opening lines, a
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Karolyn Sherwood
Jul 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
I call myself a writer. I've been at it for over five years. Yet this tiny little book still taught me big lessons. Mainly, I learned to stop using semicolons. I also learned to write short sentences.

No, I'm not trying to be facetious here, this really is a powerful little book. June Casagrande does an excellent job of illustrating her points with both bad and good examples. She walks us through the basics, and shows us how to spot—and how to fix—bad writing. It's easy to think a sentence is a
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Lee
Dec 06, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
It was the best of grammar books, it was the worst of grammar books, it was full of wisdom, it was full of silliness, it apologetically introduced complex grammar terminology, it never made much use of all this notation, it concentrated on The Sentence, it concentrated on most aspects of writing since writing is made up of sentences, it had everything to get you started, it had references to get you finished, our writing was going direct to Heaven, our writing was all going direct the other way ...more
Johannes
Dec 11, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
If you think adverbs are the "best kept secrets" in English grammar and that an appropriate response to semi-colons is to "hate" them -- this book might still be not for you. There is some wisdom here, yes, but I couldn't stand the way too cheery, I'm-your-best-buddy tone. Also, there's a lot of grammar, most of which is tedious and too simple for anybody with experience of languages.

Other than that, it's not too bad, and the chapters are short.
Deborah Markus
Jun 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
Yes! YES! I had a gift certificate! I got the latest June Casagrande romp! If you haven't read her, she's a goddess! If you have read her, she's still a goddess -- you just didn't need me to tell you! Don't let the title put you off. Even if you're not a writer, READ THIS BOOK.
Victor *we were on a break!*
I made it!

Getting through the last 40 pages felt like I was crawling over broken glass and I still have a pencil in my eye but this is a book that I will have to get a copy of and keep by my desk. I feel so much smarter now and I don't have to use semicolons to prove it.
Melissa Colby
Mar 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
If you are interested in writing anything from blogs to novels, stop everything and read this now! Casagrande does an amazing job of explaining what makes a sentence well written. It is hard to pinpoint the errors in many people's sentences, but Casagrande makes it easy to understand and entertaining. Her writing is witty and easy to comprehend. After finishing the book, I immediately ordered it off Amazon and downloaded her book on punctuation. I feel like I will need to read this book again to ...more
Stan James
Jul 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
This book is like the perfect date for a grammar geek. It's funny, smart, reasonable, and hates semicolons.

June Casagrande does an excellent job of guiding writers through the pitfalls of crafting a sentence, carefully illustrating the many ways one can fumble with just a few words. She offers solid instruction on how to avoid the pitfalls, be on guard for common errors, and generally improve the sentences that form the foundation for all writing, whether it's fiction or non-fiction.

The book end
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Avi Eisenman
Very helpful book packed with great information on the various grammatical considerations for creating a sentence. It was a bit dense, and less entertaining than I had hoped for, but I definitely plan on reading it again to get a better handle on all of the grammar rules that I had forgotten.
Donna
Jul 24, 2017 added it
The author presents the rules of grammar and sentence structure with humor, common sense, and clarifying examples. She follows her own advice by keeping the book short and to the point. It's worth a read, pen in hand, to highlight areas for future reference.
Daniel B-G
Nov 15, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: writing
Decent advice on sentence structuring, though similar to a lot of advice I've read before. Refreshingly short and direct.
Michael Perez
Dec 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Glad I gave this a read. I would recommend this to any writer.
Floris Pol
Feb 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
'It was the best of sentences, it was the worst of sentences: a writer's guide to crafting killer sentences' delivers it promise, to a certain degree. The book certaintly helped me write better sentences, that part of her mission was succesful. But to say I now write killer sentences, not really. I still have a long way to go, but June Casagrande's book proved a solid stepping stone on my way.

The book tries to approach the 'boring' subject of grammer in a conversational style. She speaks to the
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Lee Dunning
Dec 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I found this book outstanding. It's full of humor, turning what could be a dry subject, into a highly entertaining read. Many examples are packed into each section, making everything clear. Quite a lot of what passes for grammar is actually style, and Ms. Casagrande points this out on numerous occasions. There is a surprising amount of disagreement on how to use punctuation and grammatical phrases, and she points out which camps follow which "rules". I will definitely be trying her other books.

O
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Blair Conrad
Oct 19, 2010 rated it really liked it
Very good. I was slightly put off by the way we jumped right into large and complicated sentences, but it worked. After the first study, I really got into the flow and enjoyed myself. The cases studies were explained well and many of the examples were very funny, especially the Faulty and Funky Parallels.

In addition to entertaining, the book instructs. It provides useful tips on writing better. Casagrande's central thesis is that writers should (mostly) write to serve the Reader. Each of the sen
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Frank
Dec 30, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: writing-craft
Casagrande gives accessible insight into grammar and sentence-making while helping the reader develop an eye for clarity. Her prose never bores and it kept me attentive through even the technical parts. She doesn't supply guidelines without developing the pro's and con's as well as alternatives. She always grounds her opinions and advice in the competing standards of grammar officials like The Chicago Manual of Style, Merriam Webster, and others. By sticking to this larger picture, she presents ...more
Heather Galloway
Jul 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I picked this book out thinking it might be useful for my college prep writing class. Sentence crafting is a weakness these writers have. While this book is not as sexy as Sin and Syntax, it does do a better job giving examples of both good and bad writing. The explanations for what is good and what isn't, are also well done. I think this would be helpful to my students, but I'm not sure. As with Sin and Syntax, I fear that while it might engender good discussion of writing, it would actually ha ...more
Anne
Apr 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
A writer's guidebook that uses testicular torsion as an example of specific description has balls. Apologies to Ms Casagrande for the poor metaphor - the book is clearly good enough to make me self conscious.

It Was the Best of Sentences, It Was the Work of Sentences has three things that every sentence-writing guide needs:
- an upfront statement of the author's stylistic prejudices,
- frequent acknowledgements that every rule can be broken in the service good writing, and
- a killer description of
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Mars Dorian
Jun 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
One of the best books on writing (in particular : sentence building) I've ever read.

Not only are the chapters short and informative, the author also packs a humorous punch.
I chuckled along the reading ride.

This book is for you if :

you want to get a good, print-worthy grasp of writing
you want to craft effective sentences
make your writing make fun to read and understand

Whether you're blog writer, journalist, or author, this book is for anyone who wants
to craft kick-ass sentences.

Highly recommend
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D.G. Kaye
Mar 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Great Writing Aid

This little book was a fast and very informative read. The author uses examples of sentences shown in different structures to depict the various tenses used, which can dampen or enhance the effects of a sentence. There are some good rule of thumbs mentioned and the book is written in such manner that it explains the reasoning for structure. There are also some humorous descriptions used to lighten the mood. This book is a handy little guide to keep at your side for those moments
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“If you want to master the art of the sentence, you must first accept a somewhat unpleasant truth--something a lot of writers would rather deny: The Reader is king. You are his servant. You serve the Reader information. You serve the Reader entertainment. You serve the Reader details of your company's recent merger or details of your experiences in drug rehab. In each case, as a writer you're working for the man (or the woman). Only by knowing your place can you do your job well.” 5 likes
“He needed to “kill his darlings”—Stephen King’s favorite term for letting go of stuff that just doesn’t work.” 2 likes
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