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Book Recommendation - Spunk and Bite


Lee Knight

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Spunk & Bite - A Writer's Guide to Bold, Contemporary Style - Arthur Plotnic

 

http://www.amazon.com/Spunk-Bite-Writers-Contemporary-Paperback/dp/B002VLJWGE/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1301240509&sr=1-5

 

As opposed to Strunk & White's Elements of Style? Get it? Strunk & White : Spunk & Bite?

 

You know? The Elements of Style by Strunk and White? The bible of usage for "clear and concise" writing? I've used and continue to use my battered copy and enjoy an e version on my Nook. But... but...

 

IT IS SO FREAKING CONSTRAINING!!!!

 

Spunk and Bite is a reaction to the stodgy grammar and style watchman. Strunk & White's Elements of Style says:

 

- Place yourself in the background.

- Do not affect a breezy manner.

- Do not inject opinion.

- Use figures of speech sparingly.

- Avoid foreign languages.

- Prefer the standard to the offbeat.

 

Well, screw that! By the way, The White in the byline... co-writer of the "bible", that's E. B. White! You know, do as I say, not as I do. E. B. went on to write Charlotte's Web and Stuart Little. And broke all those rules. Know 'em, then break 'em. OK, OK, sure, I agree. So... let's break 'em!

 

Spunk and Bite. How does this relate to songwriting?!?!? Well, songwriting is all about direct communication. By any means necessarily. So is Plotnik's Spunk and Bite. He uses contemporary writers for fodder. The critics from the New Yorker. The New York Times. Sports writers. Novelists of questionable pedigree. Internet slang. Hip hop urban yap. And he dissects their crazy usage and explains what's going on here.

 

His writing style gently takes you by the hand and... zaps you with a joke store hand buzzer. Just to illustrate his point. He fakes left and goes right, no left! Fun. Insightful. Very useful. Not boring. Lacking in stodgiosity.

 

Highly recommended by yours truly.

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Well, Strunk & White is directed at practical writing, writing to convey information as directly and unambiguously as possible. Not fiction and maybe not persuasive writing, either.

 

I've approached it as a starting place for some of my writing since I was in high school. It's like learning the rudiments first before you try to do the fancy stuff; it's a foundation. Or, as my 9th grade English teacher used to say, you've got to know the rules before you can break them intelligently. (That said, there are some distinct quirks to the S&W approach so, as with almost everything in life, I've learned to pick and choose the particulars.)

 

Spunk & Bite seems like it could provide a good guide to those looking to develop such an approach.

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Well, Strunk & White is directed at practical writing, writing to convey information as directly and unambiguously as possible. Not fiction and maybe not persuasive writing, either.


I've approached it as a
starting
place for some of my writing since I was in high school. It's like learning the
rudiments
first before you try to do the fancy stuff; it's a foundation. Or, as my 9th grade English teacher used to say, you've got to
know
the rules before you can break them intelligently. (That said, there are some distinct quirks to the S&W approach so, as with almost everything in life, I've learned to pick and choose the particulars.)

 

I absolutely agree. However, a lot of writers don't. :)

 

And btw, Plotnik shows how even technical writing, all sorts of "practical" writing can use a more contemporary style. Maybe more of a bend than break the rules. Right before it snaps. It's the first place I've seen this analyzed. We pick it up through our pores everyday... but sometimes it's cool to have someone really tear it apart and reassemble for our benefit.

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Got it reserved at the library. Hope to read it over spring break. Is it a read-straight-through, or a consult-as-needed, like Strunk and White?

 

It's a read straight through.

 

Hey guys, I'm only reporting the fun spirit of the book. Of course Strunk and White is the bible for a reason. The tone of Spunk and Bite is a fun and reckless bucking of the system. After making sure you've studied the system... I'm not a heathen, nor is Plotnic, he's an adventurer. Trust that his tone at making his point is a lot more adept and successful than mine. :)

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Well, Strunk & White is directed at practical writing, writing to convey information as directly and unambiguously as possible.
Not fiction
and maybe not persuasive writing, either.


 

Actually, the jury is still out on that bolded bit above. There are plenty of reasons to believe that White's expanded and revised take on Strunk's initial offering is indeed a one size fits all, across the board rule book.

 

And it's a good one too. And rules (sorry Matximus) were meant to be broken and all that. :)

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