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Vex, Hex, Smash, Smooch

Let Verbs Power Your Writing

November 2013

Our Retail Price:£12.99

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"Vex, Hex, Smash, Smooch is more than just a writing handbook; it’s a key to unlocking every writer’s innate creativity by offering countless paths to verbal expressiveness." —San Francisco Chronicle

Great sentences pivot on great verbs. In Vex, Hex, Smash, Smooch, Constance Hale, best-selling author of Sin and Syntax, zeroes in on verbs that make bad writing sour and good writing sing. Each chapter in Vex, Hex, Smash, Smooch features four sections: “Vex” tackles tough syntax, “Hex” debunks myths about verbs, “Smash” warns of bad writing habits, and “Smooch” showcases exemplary writing. A veteran journalist and writing teacher, Hale peppers her advice with pop-culture references and adapts her expertise for writers of every level. With examples ranging from the tangled clauses of Henry James and the piercing insight of Joan Didion to the punchy gerunds of the Coen brothers and the passive verbs of CEOs on trial, Vex, Hex, Smash, Smooch offers a reenergized take on the “little despot of the sentence.”


"Hale has figured out how to write about verbs so that she knocks people out in a ‘that’s-so-cool’ way, rather than a ‘dose-of-Ambien’ way…Every reader will learn something." — Lauren O’Neal, The Rumpus

"Hale’s comprehensive guide gives teachers, editors, writers and language lovers a rich array of instruction, advice and awe-inspiring writing." — Elfrieda Abbe, Journal Sentinel

"I put this book down feeling I’ve been to a great party where I’ve ‘met’ a lot of interesting people." — Ruth Walker, Christian Science Monitor

"As with Hale’s previous book, you don’t need a PhD in linguistics to read Vex, Hex, Smash, Smooch. Hale uses plain English in an entertaining way to keep the pages turning…This book deserves a spot on your physical or digital bookshelf." — Erin Brenner,

"Her handy tips will help your verbs crackle, spit and thunder." — Rob Kyff, Hartford Courant

"Hale’s book often brings color to a subject tinted gray." — Wallace Baine, Santa Cruz Sentinel



142 x 218 mm • 400 pages


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