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June Casagrande's Blog

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I'm reading Truman Capote's In Cold Blood about the 1959 murder of a Kansas family. If Capote's account is to be believed (And I'm not sayin' it is. It's a great yarn, but the whole thing has a pre-James-Frey-James-Frey quality to it.), one of the murderers, Perry Smith, fancied himself a would-be...
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They say that the most common question asked of authors is, "Where do you get your ideas?" But sitting next to a fellow nonfiction author today, I realized that there's one question I've heard more than any other. The question in question: "How long did it take to write this?"...
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A while back I devised a little grammar/style course for Mediabistro, which I taught again recently. I noticed that there are a few issues that always elicit gasps of surprise from students. So I thought I’d pass along a few. * I always ask students, which is right: “I can’t wait ’til tomorrow” or...
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I'm fascinated with sentences. I'm also fascinated with the New Yorker. The latter not necessarily in a good way. And that's all the context I can offer to explain why today I'm asking you to compare some opening sentences from the Atlantic magazine to some from the New Yorker. Here are the first...
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Something to think about ... http://www.insidebayarea.com/ci_10422212?source=most_emailed
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I do a lot of copy editing for publications that follow Los Angeles Times style, which is just a slight variation on AP style. More recently, I’ve begun copy editing publications that follow the Chicago Manual of Style. A classic difference between them: AP says not to use the serial comma, or...
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Inspired by other Red Room members who have given away free books here, I figured I could pry open a case of my own. So here's the deal: If, in the past, you have commented on my blog more than once or if you teach writing, you can just e-mail me at june@grammarsnobs.com with a mailing address and...
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This is a follow up to my recent post about Strunk and White's The Elements of Style and what, I believe, is wrong with this beloved little book. As I wrote, there was an important shift in meaning when this guide, which was written for Strunk's students, was marketed as a general style guide....
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In today's Washington Post, Jonathan Yardley sings the praises of Strunk & White's "The Elements of Style." And, once again, I'm amazed at the snow job White pulled. Basically, he took a book of instructions for students writing term papers for one teacher a century ago and marketed...
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A word I use too much: defensible A word I should use more: work A word I wish I used more: royalties A word that hurts my ears when others say it: chick A word that doesn't feel right in my mouth when I say it:Pepperdine A word that's used too much in novels: idyllic A word that's used too much in...
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A funny little game of words is taking place between the lines in the news this week. Vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin's blue-collar husband is being hailed as evidence of Palin's connection to working-class Americans. And the terms "blue-collar" and "working-class" are...
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Okay, it's not a whole query, but here are the first three sentences of the query letter that eventually sold "Grammar Snobs Are Great Big Meanies." (Thanks to Alan for the inspiration!)  Ms. Agent: Who among us has not, while composing a “Dear John” letter, fretted over whether to...
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If I had to get into a fight, I'd rather get into a fight with a Tim than with a Tom. The vowel sound, to me, makes Tim sound less tough. (Tinny even. Perhaps even tiny.) However, I don't feel the same way about Jim and John. Jim sounds, to me, as tough or more tough than John. (This is what it's...
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Came across this sentence in a story I was editing. It was a quotation. "Separating out the variables quickly clarifies to job hunters concerned about earning power [and] which fields pay most." It contains a mistake that got past a wire editor, then a section editor. It got past me. It...
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No one is affected by advertising. No one. Just walk up to anyone in the street and ask ’em: You: See that Coca-Cola billboard right there? Does that make you moreinclined to buy Coke? Random Stranger: No. You: But what about the pretty girl in the billboard? Surely her wholesome, toothy smile...
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