As a professional writer, people often ask me about the books I go to when I’m writing. Looking over my bookshelves, I find my ‘writing’ books fall into two categories.
The first contains books of a general nature – grammar, style, punctuation. Basically, how to write clearly and engage the reader. In the second category are style manuals, both general and those published by corporations, news organisations and governments. So, direct from the Bluegum bookshelves, here are five books that have helped me become a better writer.
Death Sentence by Don Watson
If you spend your days ‘reaching out’, ‘impacting’, ‘leveraging’ and ‘taking it to the next level’, Don Watson has a bone to pick with you. This screenwriter and satirist was also a speech writer for former PM Paul Keating. In Death Sentence he leads the charge against corporate jargon and zombified language.
Writing at Work by Neil James
The Plain English Foundation’s mission is to help writers get to the point and communicate clearly. One of its biggest fans is Neil James, whose Writing at Work is a guide to creating work documents, including reports, tenders and professional letters.
F*cking Apostrophes by Simon Griffin
Apostrophes can be like black cats in horror movies – jumping out at the reader from unexpected places. The term for this misplaced punctuation mark is greengrocer’s apostrophe, which is why signs like Todays Special: Cherry’s and Banana’s provoked Simon Griffin to write this rant/guide!
The Elements of Style by Strunk and White
There was a time when first-year English Lit students were forced to buy a copy of this scholarly guide to punctuation, style and grammar. Apart from how to use apostrophes and colons, it includes tips for writing in active voice and how to make a paragraph the unit of composition.
Australian Government Style Manual
The touchstone for government contractors and proposal writers, the Australian Government Style Manual provides guidance and recommendations for anyone preparing material for government departments. It’s about to be updated for the digital age as well.
If you need help with your writing, whether it’s a white paper or a government tender bid, contact Bluegum Communication. We have the style you need to make your business stand out!