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Get a little Spunk & Bite with an interview with Art Plotnik

Why is language or style so important to writers? Well, according to Arthur Plotnik, “Most editors become editors because of a special infatuation with language…all else being equal, the masterly, distinctive use of language lifts an editor’s (or agent’s) heart. It means that the writing, as is, will please critics; that it will deliver on a promise to readers.”

I don’t know about you, but staying true to the reader is my number one goal. Arthur Plotnik is the author of the new Spunk & Bite: A writer’s guide to punchier, more engaging language & style, a terrific new book that is bound to provide inspiration while giving you a stimulating and often humorous read. While he’s a great teacher, Plotnik does even more: He leads by example. Try his opening paragraph:

“Sometimes when I’m digging for the right word, I long for a terrier-like acuity, a canine’s sensory gifts applied to language. Imagine if dogs ever figured out how to write–how to put that spunkiness and bite of theirs into literature. Think of those olfactory superpowers attuned to sniffing out metaphors or tracking, not the bone mot, but the bon mot. We dry-and-fleshy-nosed writers could be in big trouble.”

If Plotniks’s name resounds with a familiar clang, maybe you encountered the Grand Master of Punctuation and Style in one of his earlier books such as The Elements of Editing or The Elements of Expression: Putting Thoughts into Words. If you’re a librarian, perhaps you went a few rounds with the master during his tenure as editor of the American Library Association’s magazine, American Libraries. I first encountered the master a few years ago when I read and reviewed The Elements of Authorship.

As a young writer, Plotnik studied under Philip Roth and Vance Bourjaily at the Iowa Writers Workshop. Not a bad start. If you have the time, check out Art’s website, Spunky’s Blogrr, and, if you want to know more about the man, check out his official bio. And don’t forget to return for more tidbits and soundbites from the Great Plotnik!


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