As far as word associations go, glamour and grammar seem worlds apart, except at one stage in the history of English, glamour and grammar were actually the same word. Glamour or grammar was linked to enchantment and magic spells. It might be stretching it to say that grammar can cast magic spells, but if you are a word nut like me you might dream that one day your grammar and punctuation will pull a curious rabbit out of your story’s hat. Along with The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White, and Eats, Shoots and Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss, The Glamour of Grammar by Roy Peter Clark is one of those few books that succeeds in injecting style and wit into clearly developed, yet succinctly presented, lessons.

The Glamour of Grammar is divided into five parts: Words, Points, Standards, Meaning, and Purpose. Like Writing Tools, Clark provides a variety of contexts for each lesson. For example, in chapter four, he draws on familiar titles from novels, movies, songs, and prayers, to illustrate the effects of switching out the articles ‘a’ and ‘the’. In chapter forty-three, he draws on the lexicon Slang and Its Analogues by J.S. Farmer and W.E. Henley, to illustrate the charms of slang synonyms for some of the most common offensive words and phrases.

A Sample of Lessons

  • Use the full stop (the period) to slow down the reader. The full stop can magnify emotion, add suspense, or simplify a complicated idea.
  • Use the semicolon as a “swinging gate”; it can separate and connect at the same time.
  • Move from the concrete to the abstract, from particular to general, from showing to telling.

About Roy Peter Clark
Roy Peter Clark is a senior scholar and vice president at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies (a well-known Journalism school and research organisation in Florida). Clark has published seven books on the writing craft, as well as authoring and editing several books on Journalism. Having taught writing for more than thirty years to students and organisations, he is often referred to as ‘America’s favourite Writing Coach’.

His first book, Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer, was published in 2006 (another five writing tools were added to a tenth-anniversary edition in 2016). His other books on the craft of writing include The Glamour of Grammar: A Guide to the Magic and Mystery of Practical English; Help! For Writers: 210 Solutions to the Problems Every Writer Faces; How to Write Short: Word Craft for Fast Times; Murder Your Darlings: And Other Gentle Writing Advice from Aristotle to Zinsser; The Art of X-Ray Reading: How the Secrets of 25 Great Works of Literature Will Improve Your Writing; and Tell It Like It Is: A Guide to Clear and Honest Writing.

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