Mechanically Inclined: Building Grammar, Usage, and Style into Writer's Workshop

By Jeff Anderson | Go to book overview

Foreword

You may not know it—yet—but the book you hold in your hands is a treasure. I say this speaking as a teacher and a writer. [How can this be?] you're asking. A book on grammar and usage? Will it hold my attention? Satisfy my curiosity? Entertain me? Enlighten me? Yes, yes, yes, and yes. Trust me, this is a book engaging enough to keep you awake on the airplane, enough to keep you turning pages into the night, and best of all—from a teacher's perspective—practical and informative enough to actually use, return to, mark up, quote, give as a gift. Put it on a handy shelf very close to where you do your lesson plans because you'll reach for it again and again.

Why? Well, for one thing, even though most of us feel relatively comfortable with grammar, usage, and mechanics (they are different, as Jeff explains so clearly), and very comfortable correcting others' copy, we do not necessarily feel at all comfortable teaching these things. This is easily understood if we think about it. While handbooks, even the best of them, are jam-packed with rules we must know to write in a literate and conventional way, it is rare for anyone to take the time to explain these rules simply and in depth, then provide examples (more than one, unlike those maddening algebra textbooks), and finally, offer us a chance to apply what we have learned—or think we have learned. Many people are willing and able to share conventional rules. The distance between people who will explain the thinking underlying those rules in a way that we understand and remember stretches out before us like a dry, vast wasteland of meaningless worksheets. Then, we come to the oasis …

Jeff Anderson is a true teacher, one who knows that to teach others well, you must teach yourself first. Reading Jeff's work is like having a conversation with a trusted coach. He makes it all simple for us. He makes it come alive. He offers examples ripped from the pages of today's most absorbing literature. And—here's the part I love most of all—he anticipates our questions

-xi-

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