Books -- the Suspended Sentence: A Guide for Writers by Roscoe C. Born

Article excerpt

Born, Roscoe C. (1993). The Suspended Sentence: A Guide for Writers. Ames, Iowa: Iowa State University Press, Publishers. 214 pp. Hardback.

The Suspended Sentence: A Guide for Writers is refreshing because it is not a typical "grammar" book. Born uses a series of his essays--originally memos written to editors and writers at the Detroit News, where he is a writing consultant--to discuss in a direct and playful prose style common writing and grammatical errors made by professional newspaper writers. He then provides simple rules that, if followed, will prevent the writer from continuing to make the same mistakes. In fact, the rules are so simple and logical that the writer may wonder why he or she was confused in the first place!

The author writes about veritable grammatical mine fields, including misplaced modifiers, agreement of subject and verb, transitions, when to use "whom" or "who" and "that" or "which," and much more. But what's amazing is how the author deals with these deadly boring subjects in a fun and playful way. The book's arsenal of weapons for wiping out these grammatical bombshells before they detonate solidly arms writers and prepares them for battle.

For example, in "The Suspended Sentence," Born writes, "The title of this essayette may mislead you momentarily. It does not allude to some happy felon put back on the street by a permissive judge. It is, rather, my name for a writing practice that strangles all too many newspaper stories. …