Book Review – The Elements of Eloquence

Secrets of the Perfect Turn of Phrase

By Annette Rey

While on a summer hiatus I read a few books. One of those is The Elements of Eloquence, Secrets of the Perfect Turn of Phrase, by Mark Forsyth.

Don’t let the Contents section dissuade you from reading this book. Chapters titled Synaesthesia, Epizeuxis, and Zeugma may sound daunting and too challenging to your memory. And you may say, who cares, anyway?

But don’t dismay. Mr. Forsyth only names these figures of speech to set them apart from others. If you are having fun on a yacht, knowing the name of it is not really important, right? But knowing what it can do and where it is going is important to you.

Any writer needs to get into the bones of what sentence structure is all about. This book will help you identify writing techniques used in everything you read. Awareness of the myriad of ways you can express yourself in your writing will make you a better writer.

The book is chocked-full of excerpts from many authors’ works and their characters, from Hamlet to Yoda. The way Yoda phrased his words is called anadiplosis, by the way. Which is not important…but it is. When you immerse yourself in the education Mark Forsyth presents, you’ll see sentence construction in a new, enlightened way.

I suggest when you read this book, you make your own exercise after each chapter. Mimic what you have learned. Formulate your own sentences. Doing is learning how to do. This is true in any endeavor. You can’t hit a home run without swinging a bat. You won’t become a versatile writer without pecking at those keys.

Use this book to your advantage. It is a great learning tool.

Mr. Forsyth has written other books I intend to read. He can be found at

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