Spunk and Bite

Spunk and Bite by the excellently-named Arthur Plotnik was recommended to me by Marcia Riefer Johnston, the author of a forthcoming book on writing style called “Word Up!”. I had the privilege of browsing a pre-pub version of her book, and I reasoned that anyone who wrote so lucidly on matters of style must have good insight on other books addressing the subject. She said to me that Spunk and Bite is intended as a companion to Strunk & White’s Elements of Style.

Marcia’s recommendation was well made – this is a splendid book. If Strunk & White offer absolute statements, Spunk and Bite counsels moderation: where the Elements of Style will ban a construction, Plotnik will demonstrate its use and the risks of over-use.

This is a book about style, about making your work stand out from others you are competing against with a distinctive voice and fresh writing. There are examples aplenty (both of the good and the bad) and even short exercises to stimulate the little grey cells. There are – amongst other things – discussions of adverbs, neologisms, verbing of nouns (and nouning of verbs), finding new uses for old words, learning the proper names for things (including some useful pointers to reference books) and the creative use of lists.

Overall, this is a highly refreshing book and I am very grateful for the recommendation from Marcia. I am very much looking forward to reading Word Up! in full.

One Reply to “Spunk and Bite”

  1. I’m delighted that you enjoyed Plotnik’s book, Duncan. It inspired and entertained me—and enlivened my writing. If I could recommend only one writing book, especially to seasoned writers, “Spunk & Bite” would be it.

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