If you are looking for a very well-organized resource book on writing, look no further than Spellbinding Sentences (August 2015). This book combines both the quick know-how guide of a writing workshop and the in-depth detail about syntax and diction of a MFA class. As Baig says on the first page, “This is not a grammar book; it’s a book about the power of words. It will teach you—in a down-to-earth, practical way—how to make that power your own.” The author succeeds in fulfilling the promises she makes in Spellbinding Sentences.
Reading this book, I felt like I was settling in with an old friend. I really enjoyed the author’s voice. I felt as though she was sitting with me, teaching me one-on-one. Her writing style is clear and conversational. Her expertise on the subject is obvious and she makes every effort to explain things in a concrete way. She uses passages from published works to demonstrate her points and encourages the reader to examine how their favorite authors string together words into powerful sentences.
The structure of this resource book is perfect for reading through as well as jumping around to particular sections. Before the end of each chapter, Baig offers a section of practice tools and reflection questions. She says the only requirements for this book are an open-minded writer and a notebook.
Her detailed instructions help the writer practice choosing his/her words carefully to transform imaginative images into well-written passages. For example, Baig’s discussion on figurative language was very helpful. I’ve always preferred writing similes over metaphors, mainly because similes come easier to me. However, after reading Baig’s chapter about these two figures of speech, I’ve learned to appreciate the power behind metaphors and now try to use them more often in my writing. Additionally, I found her discussion on content mind versus word mind to be very interesting and helpful. Essentially, this is the difference between what we want to say and how we say it. Usually when writing, your content mind operates in the foreground while your word mind takes the background. Baig urges writers to reverse this by practicing to bring your word mind to the foreground.
Playing with sentence structure and choice of words is both fun and educational. I have learned so much about the rhythm and flow of sentences. I highly recommend this book to writers as well as those interested in exercising their minds to better understand the English language.
Reviewed by Libby Bridges
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