Stylebook by Associated Press.
Especially good for those who write for
newspapers and some magazines.
Dictionary of Troublesome Words:
A Writer’s Guide to Getting It Right
by Bill Bryson.
Manual of Style by the University
of Chicago Press Staff .
Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance
Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss.
Especially good (and fun) for those writing
for the UK market.
From the Madding Gerund by Geoffrey
K. Pullum et al.
Modern American Usage by Bryan
A. Garner is excellent for Americans. For
our purposes—that is not to rile an
agent or publisher—choose the more
formal of possibilities it offers. If the
suggestion feels stilted, rearrange the
construction of your sentence.
Snobs Are Big Meanies: Guide to
Language for Fun & Spite by June Casagrande,
published by Penguin. Use this book when
you want to be informed and confident enough
to edit on your own or to judge the expertise
of the editor you hire. It is an excellent
source (and a fun one) to learn more about
style choice vs. grammar rules. A more formal
tome that helps with basics but isn’t
as fun is The New Fowler’s Modern
English Usage by Fowler and Burchfield.
Mortal Syntax: 101 Language
Choices That Will Get You Clobbered by the
Grammar Snobs—Even If You’re
Right by June Casagrande. The more you know
about choices, the better writer you’ll
be. You will not always need to cater to
It Was the Best of Sentences, It Was
the Worst of Sentences: A Writer’s
Guide to Crafting Killer Sentences by June
Casagrande. This is the best single book
to review before you begin to edit any major
for Chicago Manual of Style by
Kate Turabian .
Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses,
and Dissertations, Seventh Edition:
Chicago Style for Students and Researchers
by Kate L. Turabian is an excellent resource
Perrin and Smith Handbook of Current
English has been around a long time.
When you have read it, you will know the
difference between temerity and timidity—or
at least know to look them up. “Half
knowing a word may be more dangerous than
not knowing it at all” is the kind
of truth you will find within its pages.
Trouble is, you may need to search for it
in a bookstore that sells used books or
watch for it at garage sales.
Elements of Style, Fourth Edition,
by William Strunk Jr., E. B. White, Roger
Angell. See my cautionary notes in this
book about using Elements as if it were
The Ten Commandments.
Describer’s Dictionary: A
Treasury of Terms & Literary Quotations
by David Grambs. One of my favorite references
for creative writing.
Words Collide: A Media Writer’s
Guide to Grammar and Style (Wadsworth Series
in Mass Communication and Journalism) by
Lauren Kessler and Duncan McDonald ( ).
Perfect for freelance writers, copywriters,
journalists, and media writers.
Dialogue by Tom Chiarellais a must-read
because poor dialogue technique is a glaring
tipoff to editors and publishers that a
manuscript is written by a beginner who
has not taken the time to learn his or her
craft. It is one of those books I wish I
had written myself. No need. Chiarella did
for Emotional Impact:
Advanced Dramatic Techniques to Attract,
Engage, and Fascinate the Reader from Beginning
to End by Karl Iglesias. Fiction writers
can learn a lot from screenwriters and playwrights
and vice versa.
for Story by Lisa Cron. I recommend
this book to all my editing clients.
me in my battle with the gremlins. But have
fun doing it!