This is a book review of Create, Narrate, Punctuate: How to Fashion Exquisitely Styled Sentences by Ramy Tadros. I received a review copy of this book from Story Cartel. Other than the review copy, I have not received any consideration whatsoever from Ramy Tadros, Story Cartel or anyone else associated with the writing, publication and marketing of the book.
I have given this book a rare five stars. I am stingy with five stars because I believe in dispersing them with discretion.
The Story Cartel page on this book starts the book description with
“Have you ever wondered how to spruce up your writing? Or clear the clutter from your sentences? Or entice, engage and entertain a specific audience?”
The book does answer these questions and a few others, too. It is full of wisdom on the nuances of precise, dynamic writing.
The book itself is an example of concise writing that effectively conveys the author’s messages.
The book is full of examples from existing literature: examples of how not to write and examples of how to. The author shows readers ways to improve upon the how-not-to aspects. Every chapter has exercises for the reader that are almost reminiscent of school, but have the same end effect: the student – reader’s progress. I had to repeatedly fight the itch to skip the exercises, to keep moving, and I am glad I prevailed. Sometimes, the exercises may seem to be a waste of time, but doing them etches the base ideas behind them deep into your mind.
This is not the first book I have read on how to write, and I hope, it will not be the last. What sets this book apart is the fact that the author has gone a couple of steps beyond the norm. Yes, there are the usual chapters on showing , not telling; the preferable use of the active voice; the role of strong (action) verbs; the other areas that writers writing for writers usually write about.
I have not come across any other book on writing that takes the pains this book does, in Chapter 10, to explain the concept of left-, mid- and right-branching sentences. Highly educative.
Nor have I ever seen the use of rhetorical devices explained as clearly as in this book, in Chapter 11. As a matter of fact, while writing this review, I went back to that chapter for a brief reference and ended up reading it all the way through again. I am hooked, and I will be researching rhetorical devices intensively.
I don’t agree with everything in this book, though. For example, I found myself disagreeing with the advice on using full stops with the contracted forms of words like mister, doctor and avenue in Chapter 14. A footnote seeks to clarify the author’s stand, but it failed to convince me.
The author makes protestations about having targeted this book primarily at non-fiction writers, but he is possibly being modest; if you are a fiction writer, I would suggest you read this book with the attention it deserves and practise its exercises with the diligence they merit. You are bound to improve your star rating potential by a star or two.
But knowledge gained from books is great as long as you don’t treat it as gospel to the extent you allow it to stifle your natural free flow.
In Chapter 2 of this book, the author mentions a successful Apple slogan: think different.
And if you feel there is a book on writing that is a must read, write about it in the comments and we’ll get reading.