“I've read A DASH OF STYLE by Noah Lukeman: but I am far from done with it. This is not a rule book, neither is it a delightful series of stories about
commas and colons. (Not that it's not delightful.) This is what we writers have been waiting for -- a book that takes the straight jacket off of punctuation
and instead offers it up as a series of creative writing tools. Complete with exercises that make you think, rethink, consider and see your own work in a new
light; Lukeman's wit and insight make this an instant classic.”
DASH OF STYLE is the contemporary book on the subject. It puts plunk down everything you need to know about punctuation in one place where you can find
“A DASH OF STYLE reinforces the notion that punctuation is an essential aspect of fiction (as well as other creative genres). It is not only instructive in terms of how punctuation can be used, which in itself makes it worth reading, but it demonstrates (often with the use of fine examples drawn from great works of literature) how much punctuation contributes to the true character of a piece of writing. It is a terrific book. In fact, it's flawless.”
A DASH OF STYLE in two sittings. It is very lucid, wonderfully written, and flexible. It explains simply, giving clear, concrete examples, both from the quotidian and from great literature. The sections on the colon and semicolon are the best I’ve ever seen. It's also a damn good read, as well as being pithy, elegant, smart, and absolutely unpretentious. The writing is lively and vivid throughout. Nabokov said somewhere that if you pick up a line of prose and it tingles, then you know
it's alive. The prose tingles throughout, and we never feel we’re reading a book about punctuation at all. Best of all, it never condescends to or makes the reader feel stupid. It’s wise, funny, entertaining, and my students could gain so much from it. That I think is the highest praise you could offer such a book.”
“A DASH OF STYLE is a book about punctuation that is actually a book about writing itself. Lukeman gives the lie to the idea that learning grammar and punctuation don’t improve writing. Most punctuation books are indifferent to the quality of the examples chosen, but Lukeman shows punctuation working within the context of real writing, glorious writing. Reading this book, you can’t tell whether you’re learning how writers write or how punctuation works—which is, of course, precisely the point. College students, creative writing students, teachers frustrated with boring punctuation exercises, and all writers who simply want to be reminded of the intimate connection between punctuation and powerful writing ought to read this
“At long last, we writers and writing teachers, lesser lords, perhaps, of punctuation, have something to really celebrate!
Lukeman’s A DASH OF STYLE is neither a perfunctory how-to on the art of punctuation, a one-size-fits-all comma manual, nor is it an anecdotally-cute collection of grammatical do’s and don’ts. Lukeman’s A DASH OF STYLE bubbles up from the natural percolation of a life’s-worth of reading by a prodigious reader with perfect pitch. This book is written, pure and simple, out of the author’s obvious and infectious love for literature, and reading it reacquainted me with my own. From Conrad to Camus, from Shakespeare to Shaw, I felt less like I was reading a book on the art of punctuation and more like I was reading these great writers from an intimate’s point of view. My only quarrel is with the author’s mother, who should have produced him twenty years earlier so that I could have used this book for the last twenty years I’ve been teaching fiction
“After teaching literature and writing for ten years at Rutgers University, The University of Iowa, and Clarke College, I thought I knew everything there is to know about teaching punctuation. Lukeman's A DASH OF STYLE taught me otherwise. Whether one wishes to write fiction, poetry, drama, screenplays, or just great English, Lukeman's third book masterfully unveils how punctuation affects the minds and emotions of readers. A DASH OF STYLE needs to be on every aspiring and accomplished author's work
“As both a teacher and creative writer I found A DASH OF STYLE to be as clear and beautifully written as Lukeman’s first two books. Once again, he has composed a text that is perfectly organized, conveys important but subtle truths, and is unique in perspective. I will recommend the book to my students and perhaps give it as a gift to friends who write. A punctuation book for the creative writer. What a great idea.”
“Lukeman has answered my unuttered cry for a punctuation guide for creative writers. In fact, I hadn't realized that I needed it until now. My students fail to understand the need for punctuation, and I have relied on grammar books from English composition—painfully inadequate and misleading for fiction. A DASH OF STYLE is a delightful shift.
I see genius at work here.”
"One of the Best Writing Books of the Year."
"Lukeman offers literary examples from major writers like Mark Twain, while
[Eats, Shoots & Leaves’ Lynne] Truss dissects poorly punctuated public signs. The Writing Exercises ideas are Lukeman's best contribution, and particularly for these, this work is recommended for academic and large public libraries.”
“Two years ago I reviewed Lynne Truss’s enormously successful book
Eats, Shoots & Leaves, which reviewed punctuation in a masterly way. Do we need another book on punctuation so soon? Well, yes. This book is aimed at a different audience and is about a different aspect of punctuation.”
“This delightful book should be read by every writer. Lukeman, a literary agent, approaches punctuation not as a series of rules to be memorized but as a set of goals that the writer is trying to achieve. Read this, and your attitude towards periods, commas, and all their pals will never be the same.”
“Like a syntactical phrenologist, Lukeman reads character from preferences in punctuation.”
“Lukeman provides a wealth of wisdom on how to use punctuation—not as mere grammatical squiggles on the page, but as important creative tools for our craft. And he writes from real-world experience on two sides of the publishing desk.
Lukeman's [previous] works stand way ahead of the usual how-to books, precisely because Lukeman himself is a thorough teacher and a highly creative thinker.
Now comes A DASH OF STYLE, another necessary volume for the serious writer's library. Far from being another boring reference book, A
DASH OF STYLE looks at punctuation in a kind of upside down, inside out, entertaining manner, from a perspective one may never have viewed before. The lessons are invaluable for writers who want to improve both the way they think, and consequently the way they write. A
DASH OF STYLE is a truly exciting way to view what once seemed like tedious old periods and commas.”
“What Lukeman seeks to do is move grammar away from the rote rules of language and into the melodic prose creative writers can relate to. For those looking for a new way to approach this necessary aspect of writing, Lukeman may have found a way to break down the barriers to good grammar.”
Lukeman is a New York literary agent. Not perhaps, the first person an English
author would turn to for advice. But he's good. And so is his other book The
First Five Pages."
“As a copy-editor myself, I believe that it is possible to make a distinction between using punctuation with scrupulous accuracy and using it accurately but with flexibility, to enhance the flow of a piece of prose in various ways…Hence, I was glad to see this book from Noah Lukeman, which is intended to explain the art of punctuation rather than the skill…Lukeman has an extremely keen and sensitive eye for sentence structure and a neat way of explaining things. He teaches by example, flags up the dangers of over- and under-use of various strategies, and sets exercises at the end of each chapter, to encourage the reader-writer to think carefully about how they work with sentences. It is a book that is well worth reading if you are the kind of writer who values that level of detail.”
“Finding a book on punctuation that is aimed at creative writers rather than grammarians is a nice change. Noah Lukeman looks at punctuation as an art form that can be used to improve a passage of writing, and he discusses each punctuation mark in its context. In the process, he analyses the way successful writers, both contemporary and from the past, have used punctuation creatively. The chapter on the semi-colon, for example, looks at how Edgar Alan Poe used the semi-colon to enhance word economy, discusses how Mark Twain’s use of the semi-colon enabled his readers to digest complex sentences, and shows how the same punctuation mark can serve to relieve choppiness within a passage of short sentences. Punctuation, he argues, is a creative exercise. And at the conclusion of each chapter are end-of-chapter exercises that encourage you to look at your own manuscripts to analyse how you are using the punctuation mark discussed in the chapter and suggested exercises that will help you to use it to greater creative effect.”
“The proper method of correcting semicolon misuse used to be a simple smack with the ruler. Noah Lukeman, author of A DASH OF STYLE, eschews the principles of Sister Meredith, taking on the demeanor of a loving uncle, a colleague, and an artist.
This is not a book for grammarians, but for writers of fiction, non-fiction, memoirs, poetry, and screenplays. His gentle style and guiding hand work beautifully to set the writer at ease at the very start of A DASH OF STYLE. For instance, he shows how throughout history some pretty impressive authors have abused the rules of grammar to wonderful effect, and suggests get it right all the time should not be our primary focus as writers. In this way, he encourages experimentation and makes punctuation fun and interesting.
He calls punctuation our friend and shows how though skilled use, the non-word half of writing makes those very words clearer and adds meaning. He demonstrates through interactive methods (including exercises) how punctuation adds bounce and rhythm to our prose, how it creates sound and motion, how it it clarifies our writing and brings the words to life like tiny whispers in our readers' ears.
Punctuation, he explains, creates its own little world. He puts the elements of that world under a microscope and teaches the writer to become sensitive to this habitat. In this way, the book becomes not about making better grammarians, but about creating better writers.
A DASH OF STYLE focuses on the most important uses of punctuation, those that can impact most creatively on the writers work rather than merely the technical aspects apostrophes and slashes. It concerns itself with such things as how adding or subtracting a punctuation mark will alter the intention of a scene.
As a writer with a firm grasp of the rules of punctuation, I found Lukeman's approach very useful. I don't want to become a grammarian. What I need is to learn from great writers how they used punctuation to create a style and a mood in a scene, and Lukeman delivers. He shows, for example, how periods can be used to create a stream-of-consciousness effect; how commas can indicate a passing of time; how dashes can be used to capture a certain form of dialogue; how a revelation can have dramatic effect through the use of colons. The impact on content, he says quite rightly, is the holy grail of punctuation, and he makes the learning interesting by reference to samples of written language used by such writers as Hemingway, Faulkner, Poe, Melville, Carver, Dickinson. and Stein.
“I recommend everyone purchase [A DASH OF STYLE] and mark it up ASAP. [It] is surprisingly consumable thanks to its conversational tone, and offers a fun and breezy tour of ways creative writers can use punctuation for best effect….I’m enjoying Lukeman’s work not just for [its] frequent punctuation horoscopes, but for the mountain of tips he packs onto the pages of his book….Bonus: There are plenty of chew-on-this exercises at the end of each chapter, forcing you to consider the choices you’ve made in your work….Not only is A DASH OF STYLE insightful; it is, believe it or not, an entertaining read that’ll have you wondering over the power of punctuation–not to mention why no one’s addressed this subject before now. Thanks, Mr. Lukeman.”
“[In A DASH OF STYLE, Lukeman] states ideas I’ve not seen expressed elsewhere: that stops and content are interconnected to the extent that some content is not possible with certain punctuation and vice versa; that stops with different strengths in the same piece of prose influence each other and change their effect on the reader; that sometimes marks will complement others, while at other times they will conflict (his last chapter, The Symphony of Punctuation, goes into this in some detail). Every chapter ends with exercises directed at readers who are also active writers…Every part of Mr Lukeman’s argument is illustrated with lavish quotations from good authors and he is easy to read. Anyone who wants to improve their authorial voice will find value in it.”