Ben Yagoda

How to Not Write Bad

The Most Common Writing Problems and the Best Ways to Avoid Them

Riverhead Books, October 2011

“Words are the building blocks of sentences, and sentences are the building blocks of any piece of writing.”

Ben Yagoda’s How to Not Write Bad uses this basic tenet to illustrate how we can all write better, clearer, and for a wider readership. He offers advice on what he calls “not-writing-badly” which consists of the ability, first, to craft sentences that are correct in terms of spelling, diction (word choice), punctuation, and grammar, and second, sentences that exercise clarity, precision and grace. Then he focuses on crafting whole paragraphs – the cadence, consistency of tone, word repetition, sentence transitions, and paragraph length. In a comprehensive, fun guide, Yagoda lays out the simple steps that we can all take to make our writing more effective, more interesting, and just plain better.

Yagoda provides clear grammatical rules to help writers of all ages write better, not bad. As “lolspeak” and texts take over our linguistic consciousness, Yagoda emphasizes the lost art of grammar and the well-constructed sentence.