7 British English Writing Resources

This site is intended primarily for writers of American English, though much of the information is also applicable to people who write English in the United Kingdom and other parts of the world. However, I recently received a request for recommendations about writing and editing guides that focus on British English. Here are seven authoritative …Read more

7 Reference Resources for Writers and Editors

What guides and handbooks does a careful writer (or editor) rely on? I’ve consulted many resources, but the ones on this list have pride of place and show the most wear and tear. 1. The Associated Press Stylebook Associated Press style and Chicago style (see below) differ in some respects, but many of the listings …Read more

Book Review: “The Dictionary of Worthless Words”

Numerous usage handbooks provide general guidelines about how to carefully select the right word or phrase for the right job (or reject one unsuitable for its intended use), but The Dictionary of Worthless Words, by Dave Dowling, specializes in the words and phrases to avoid because they are flaccid, redundant, or verbose. The entries, listed …Read more

Book Review: “Robert Hartwell Fiske’s Dictionary of Unendurable English”

Distinguishing between the many guides for writers and speakers of the English language may appear difficult at first glance, but on closer examination of bookstore and library shelves, one at least, Robert Hartwell Fiske’s Dictionary of Unendurable English, is notable for the courage of its convictions. The exemplar of this category of resources for writers, …Read more

Book Review: “Lapsing into a Comma”

1995年,当互联网还是一个相对obscure phenomenon, a newspaper copy editor named Bill Walsh began sharing his knowledge and opinions about his craft on a website called The Slot. Five years later, Walsh transferred that lore to print with Lapsing into a Comma: A Curmudgeon’s Guide to the Many Things That …Read more

Book Review: “Telling True Stories”

The art of writing compelling nonfiction shares many parallels with that of crafting good fiction, and Telling True Stories: A Nonfiction Writers’ Guide, an anthology of essays and other content by dozens of accomplished journalists and other writers, attests to the strength of that argument. Not only that, but fiction and nonfiction writers alike will …Read more

Book Review: “Sin and Syntax”

In 1999, writer and editor Constance Hale, perhaps inspired by Karen Elizabeth Gordon’s whimsically worded and illustrated grammar and punctuation guides, wrote Sin and Syntax: How to Craft Wickedly Effective Prose. Hale’s book, like Gordon’s works, remains superb proof that reading handbooks about writing can be an experience both nutritious and tasty. Sin and Syntax …Read more


If you read Ann Lamott’s book Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life — and if you would like to think of yourself as a novelist or a memoirist, you are strongly advised to do so — be prepared for her disarming, slightly unhinged candor, for relentless reminders that writing is a labor …Read more

Book Review: “Spunk and Bite”

The Elements of Style, by William Strunk Jr. and E. B. White, has been widely celebrated as one of the masterworks of English usage. Time magazine listed it as one of the one hundred most influential books written in English since 1923. More than ten million copies of the slim little volume that elucidates good …Read more

5 Inspirational Books for Teen Writers

A site visitor requested from me a roster of books that teenagers should read before they graduate from high school. However, I never strove to work my way through the literary classics (whatever they are), so any list I compile may seem deficient to those who believe that doing so will prepare young people to …Read more

Book Review: “Help! for Writers”

Writers stymied by challenges can too easily while away their time seeking solace in writing guides, looking for tips to help them overcome obstacles rather than actually, you know, overcoming obstacles. You can easily spend the rest of your life reading rather than writing. But when offered in small doses, such advice can unblock writers’ …Read more

Book Review: “Writing Down the Bones”

I was reading Natalie Goldberg’s 2005 edition of her classic writing guide Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within, and as I worked my way through its sixty-four short chapters, I became less and less enchanted by her ruminations and suggestions as a sort of fatigue set in. Then I realized I had been …Read more