A New Writing in Five Video–Paragraphs

by Kendra Bonnett on May 17, 2010

catnav-alchemy-activePost #9 – Memoir and Fiction, Writing Alchemy – Kendra Bonnett and Matilda Butler

I must say that I had fun with this video in our Writing in Five series. For one thing, I based it around a book that has been Baker-4a mainstay among my writing reference books for more than 40 years. Sheridan Baker’s The Practical Stylist
is one of those books I keep within arms reach…should a question arise. The other three books that have been with me as long and traveled with me from home to home, coast to coast are:

  • Kate Turabian’s A Manual for Writers of Term Papers Theses and Dissertations (Third Edition, Revised, 1967)
  • William Strunk, Jr. and E. B. White’s The Elements of Style (The Macmillan paperback edition, 1962)
  • Porter G. Perrin’s Writer’s Guide and Index to English (Fourth Edition, 1965)

These books were foisted on me by well-meaning high school English teachers who intended to send me out into the world well armed for all manner of style and grammar questions that might come my way. But I doubt even these teachers could have imagined that these books would become my constant traveling companions for all these years, and that with each move (whether across town or across the continent) the books have always found space in the special box marked “Important Books.”

Today all the books show their age and wear. The bindings are all broken, the covers faded and all have pages showing signs of foxing. They’re aging just like their owner…although I hope the evidence of the years is a bit more obvious on these treasured books than on me. I look at these books and wonder…Are they my personal Portrait of Dorian Gray? Do they carry the evidence of every non sequitur, every malaprop, every grammatical error, every travesty I have inflicted on the English language?

But enough of this idle dreaming…to the video and your purpose for being here. Whether you are writing an essay, memoir, creative non-fiction or novel, I think you’ll find Sheridan Baker’s chapter on paragraphs useful. I confess it’s been several years since I had read the chapter. I found Baker’s simple directive a worthwhile reminder. Without further nostalgia on my part, here is Part I of our “Writing in Five: Sheridan Baker on Paragraphs.” Enjoy.




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