Tuesday, September 4, 2012

What's Your Answer About Writing and Grammar Books

Today, we're continuing the What's Your Answer feature by exploring this month's theme about writing and grammar books. I'll pose questions and offer my answers. Then, it's your turn to answer one or more of the questions in the comment section. If you answer one, you're welcome to expand. More than one means curbing your answers. You're welcome to include one website or blog link as well.

My Questions:

Have you bought or read any writing or grammar books lately?
 No, I'm afraid not. For many years, I subscribed to Writers Digest Club where I purchased a book a month. Almost all of them were in some way related to writing or grammar. I've got a full library of such books, but have not read one of them from cover to cover. That said, they're a great security blanket.

Do you recommend any new writing or grammar books?
I don't own an edition, but I've heard lots of good things about the Chicago Manual of Style, which is frequently updated.

What method do you use when you've got a writing or grammar question?
I confess to employing the lazy approach. For spelling, sometimes I use the dictionary in Word. If I'm not using a Word document, or if Word doesn't have an answer, I turn to Google and type in what I think is the correct spelling. My version may not be right, but with a few guesses, eventually the correct spelling will turn up.

That system often works with grammar questions as well. If I type in a phrase which is any way connected with my question, I can usually find an article on the Internet addressing my query.

Sometimes I even break down and hunt for one of the reference books in my print library, but the computer is my first choice. Can't beat it for convenience.

Your Turn. What do you do?

Morgan Mandel writes romances, mysteries and thrillers, and is
also a contributor to The Corner Cafe: A Tasty Collection of Short Stories..
Her current release, Forever Young: Blessing or Curse, is about the
adventures of a 55 year old who takes a pill to be 24, then realizes growing
old isn't the only way to die.

Soon to be released is the contemporary romance, Her Handyman.
Throw a crazy canine, a handyman and a talented artist together,
and you've got bedlam!

Find excerpts and buy links of Morgan's books at http://morgansbooklinks.blogspot.com

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  1. Yes, I use the Internet, too, while I'm writing my first drafts. I usually cross-reference with a few sites, but, you're right, it is quick and easy and there is a wealth of information out there. I sit with a dictionary and thesaurus next to me when I do a full revision.

  2. I read The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th edition. It's also one of the sources I go to when I have a grammar or style question.

    I have a list of my favorite writing books on my blog: 

  3. Strunk & White, "The Elements of Style." First and still the best.

    i also reallly enjoyed Stephen King's "On Writing." Yes, seriously. Lots of great stylistic advice for aspiring writers.

    And, like me, Stephen King despises the morass known as Twilight. Come see my blog series for a good laugh:


  4. 1. Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation, by Lynne Truss.

    2. See no. 1.

    3. Why, I turn to The Blood-Red Pencil, of course.

  5. Some great suggestions to check out in the comment section.

    Morgan Mandel

  6. I use The Chicago Manual of Style because its grammar rules apply eually to most writing forms. The beauty of CMS lies in the clarity and consistency it imparts to our works.

    One of my pet peeves is the lack of a comma before the conjunction in a series. The misinterpretations that can grow out of this are hilarious -- they can also create serious misunderstandings.

    Beyond this, I do rely on MS Word's dictionary to catch a lot of my typos. Webster's New World College Dictionary, Fourth Edition, is also within arm's reach.

    On another note, I've heard great things about Strunk and White's The Elements of Style, but I haven't used it. The size of the book compared to CMS suggests that it might be a bit less cumbersome to use.

  7. Speaking of typos...apply eQually, not eually. For some unbeknownst reason, all the keys I punch on my keyboard do not end up on the monitor. Because I know this, I usually proof what I write, but I goofed on my comment here. Sorry. I really do know better.

  8. I have a decent collection of writing books, but I've only read three of them cover to cover. If I need a writing book, I get it from the library, but mostly I rely on blogs and the Internet for lessons, learning, and support. It's free and often more current than what's on the book market for that particular topic.

  9. Morgan--Chigago Manual of Style? Hate it. Plus it's so heavy I can hardly hold it, and the print is tiny. It was not a good purchase. I know most publishers say they go by this manual, but how should I know. I'd bet a nickel they don't completely.
    For grammar--okay, I admit it...I use a high school grammar book. It's easy to understand and easy to find what I want. (Another thing I have against Chicago M of S.)
    Witing books--I have two reliables I check once in a while. One is a little old, but it is still excellent to read up on certain things. It's Alice Orr's "No More Rejections."
    The second is one of the many small one-topic books by Les Edgerton titled "Hooked." It's all about beginnings--first paragraph, first chapter, etc. Love that little book.
    Third--Also, Strunk and White's "The Elements of Style." Excellent still today.
    Good question--

  10. Gee, how about dictionary.com? LOL. I like Merriam-Webster online best. I use etymonline.com a lot when verifying historic voice to find out when a word came into usage. Of course, the CMOS, which lives on my desk. BTW, it is not frequently updated, although I'm surprised with Internet language changes that they don't have a new edition scheduled soon. No word yet.

  11. Oh, and Grammar Girl. Great stuff over there.

  12. I still use the Chicago Manual of Style for grammar questions and www.dictionary.com and www.thesaurus.com for spelling and synonyms. Okay, I'm a real stickler when it comes to accuracy.

  13. More great suggestions. Keep them coming!

    Morgan Mandel

  14. I call my sisters for grammar and usage questions, lol. I come from a family of editors. I relocated my office to northern NY State for the summer and forgot to pack CMOS so they've been hearing from me more often. You know what they say...a family who pursues good grammar together loves to correct the hell out of one another!

  15. Huh. I wonder what happened in my family. LOL.

  16. I have two rows of grammar and style books in my book case, plus the Chicago manual on line, Thesaurus and Random House on line. I subscribed to Grammarly and review my manuscript n it.

  17. I have lots of reference books, which I learn from osmosis.

    Morgan Mandel


The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.


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