Listen to Owen Bennett-Jones discuss the future of opinion polls with Mark Pack

Helen Sword

Aug 6, 2021

The Writer's Diet

University of Chicago Press 2015

Helen Sword, writing champion, brings us into the word gym. Or maybe kitchen. Either way, The Writer's Diet: A Guide to Fit Prose (U Chicago Press, 2016) is a short, sharp introduction to great writing based around 5 principles:

--use active verbs whenever possible;
--favour concrete language over vague abstractions;
--avoid long strings of prepositional phrases;
--employ adjectives and adverbs only when they contribute something new to the meaning of a sentence; 
--reduce your dependence on four pernicious “waste words”: it, this, that, and there.

There are examples of the good - William Shakespeare, Emily Dickinson, Martin Luther King Jr., John McPhee, A. S. Byatt, Richard Dawkins, Alison Gopnik, and well, the bad. But you can fix the bad - really Dr Sword's point. 

Dr Helen Sword received her doctorate in comparative literature from Princeton University and has lived since 2001 in New Zealand, where she is a Professor of Humanities at the University of Auckland and runs a private writing consultancy, WriteSpace Limited.

Bede Haines is a solicitor, specialising in litigation and a partner at Holding Redlich, an Australian commercial law firm. He lives in Sydney, Australia. Known to read books, ride bikes and eat cereal (often). bede.haines@holdingredlich.com

Listen to more episodes on:

Your Host

Bede Haines

Bede Haines is a solicitor, specialising in litigation and a partner at Holding Redlich, an Australian commercial law firm. He lives in Sydney, Australia. Known to read books, ride bikes and eat cereal (often). bede.haines@holdingredlich.com

Learn More

Also Hosted By Bede Haines