Purple Prose + Writing

On My Writerly Bookshelf

By Stina Lindenblatt @StinaLL

A few weeks ago, I received an email from a publisher asking if I would review Arthur Plotnik’s newly revised and expanded book, The Elements of Expression. Being the craft-book junkie that I am, I said, “Hell yes!” (Okay, I might have put it a little more politely than that). I have Arthur’s book Spunk and Bite: A writer’s guide to bold, contemporary style, which I loved. I knew I had to read The Elements of Expression.

Right away I’m going to admit this book isn’t for everyone. If you love the study of language, definitely pick it up. If you want to write with eloquence and wit, this is the book for you. If you prefer a book that gets straight to the point, you might want to skip on it (though you are missing a treat if you do). And if you easily suffer from writer’s envy, well, this book is going to be painful. Though if you read it, you might become the author others get jealous over because of your style. Get my point? I hope you do.

The book is written for everyone. Fiction writers. Non-fiction writers. Bloggers. Tweeters (yes, seriously!). And if you’re planning to do public speaking (i.e. if you’re planning to make extra income by conducting workshops), you’ll want to check out the book. There is a chapter called ‘Speaking Louder Than Words: Oral Presentation’. It has great advice and exercises for becoming a powerful speaker. If you have to do presentations for your job, you’ll want to pick up this book. It certainly couldn’t hurt.

What you won’t find is a discussion on grammar. It’s a book on style and expression. A book for picking the right words and imagery for forceful writing. And forceful writing gets noticed by agents, editors, readers. Isn’t that what we want?

Fortunately, being a book on expression, it isn’t dry. The Elements of Expression is filled with wit that left me laughing at the most inopportune times. In other words, this isn’t like those much dreaded high school English textbooks. I don’t remember any of them having a chapter on ‘Make My Day: The Power of Tough Talk’.

Have you read any craft books that deal with style and expression?

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On My Writerly Bookshelf + Writing