Helen SwordAug 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). email@example.com