Thursday, March 9, 2017

Wordsmithy, Hot Tips for the Writing Life - A Review....

I received a copy of Wordsmithy by Douglas Wilson from Timberdoodle for review and my honest opinion. It is part of their 11th grade curriculum kit.

Even though Wordsmithy is a short read at only 120 pages, I've been reading slowly through it over the past few months. It is broke down into 7 chapters:

1. A Veritable Russian Doll of Writing Tips
2. Read Until Your Brain Creaks
3. Word Fussers and Who-whomers
4. Born for the Clerihew
5. The Memoirs of Old Walnut Heart
6. Ancient Roman Toddlers
7. Uncommon Commonplaces

Each chapter is then broke down into 2-4 page tips. At the end of each tip is a Takeway Point, which is typically a one sentence summary, and Recommended Reading with suggested books to further your study. For example, tips from Chapter One are write from life experience; be authentic in your writing; know your audience and be clear in your message; align speech with writing; stay interested in everyday happenings around you; live a full life; and enjoy! Chapter two is all about reading in order to be a better writer. Wilson clearly believes in reading widely and deeply, but he suggests not being too analytical.
We live in a narcissistic age, which means that many want to have the praise that comes from having read, without the antecedent labor of actually reading. Wanting to write without reading is like wanting to grind flour without gathering the wheat, like wanting to make boards without logging, and like wanting to have a Mississippi Delta without any tributaries somewhere in Minnesota. Output requires intake, and literary output requires literary intake. (p. 29-30)
I believe Wilson's wit could appeal to even the most reluctant writers. His clear, easy to read, no nonsense approach could soothe even the faint at heart. With over thirty titles under his belt, Wilson is an authority on the subject of writing. He blogs, sometimes multiple times a day, at

Overall, I believe Wordsmithy would be a great edition to any upper level writing course. It's a handy pocket reference of sorts. Wilson presents a ton of sound information in a brief, concise manner. I will be handing over this handy resource when my students reach the high school level.

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