I am by no means an expert at grammar. I remember the exactly one quarter my senior year in English that we focused on grammar. Later as I would take creative writing classes in college, the focus would be on the content, not the grammar. While this hasn’t hindered me much during my process, as I’m preparing stuff for publication I absolutely feel it is causing me to not put my best foot forward. I have gone searching for books to help with the process such as Stunk & Whites Elements of Style and found that either they are extremely dry or focused on academic writing. I was thinking of resorting to taking another college class (which I might do regardless), and then I found Writers’ Devils.
Writers’ Devil by Dan Persinger was a monumental help in my writing. For me particularly, I needed help around the grammar of dialogue. I found other books focused too much on MLA, APA or Chicago/Tribune styles of writing and less on the creative aspects of fiction writing. The book gave guidance and clear examples. I say guidance because he is very straightforward when discussing “rules” and how they are not cookie cutter and nor will they work in every situation. He does however touch upon what I believe to be the bulk of creative writing.
I can’t tell you a hanging modifier from split infinitives. It gives very little background on the terminology presented and instead spends the bulk of the book working on what it is and how it is used in fiction writing. Persinger is tolerant of writers who are lacking even the most basic skills and makes few presumptions in his writing. For the more skilled writer, he does a good job of not offending, but at the same time offering alternative suggestions to your style.
Who would I recommend this book to? I would suggest it to anybody who finds themselves spending more time using Grammarly or similar websites than you want to be. Some very simple tips have altered my grammar enough that I’m saving days on editing, which I would much rather spend on writing. His layout of the book is meant for fast reading and easy digestible information that doesn’t get wrapped up in unnecessary and cumbersome theoretical grammar. For a kindle book, and at $9.99, I have to say it’s a great first book to add to your arsenal if you’ve just written a draft of your novel. The only downside I found was that the book is relatively short. I know he picked popular topics and frequently made mistakes, but I would have continued reading more grammar faux-pas if he had written it.