For the last few weeks, I’ve been working on an idea. Initially it was something that came out of teaching Grammar and Writing at University of Salzburg, when I realised how little of our language native speakers knew, and how damaging our lack of grammatical knowledge was to Britain’s ability to write effectively.

Sure, we have produced amazing published writers and fantastic journalists throughout history, but what about Joe Bloggs? The man on the street? In fact, what about the armies of kids, parents, teachers and professionals who really have no clue firstly how easy sentences are to understand, and how powerful writing can become with just a little bit more knowledge.

Lynne Truss exposed a gaping hole in the market when she had run-away success with Eats Shoots and Leaves, and myriad books have appeared on the bookshelves since then trying to make grammar understandable. But you know what? It doesn’t seem to matter how many books I look at, I still see a woeful lack of some of the most powerful information I’ve learnt in twenty years of studying and teaching English: sentence types and sentence problems.

The MA Non-fiction module I’m due to submit my portfolio for next week contains the 80%-complete material for submission to publishers. Just a bit more work and my mission to reclaim sentences and return writing power to the people will be under way.

It just doesn’t seem wholly right that non-natives and only a handful of native speakers should even be aware of these nine keys to writing effectively. So I’ve set my mission — a sub-edit for the International Press Institute and the completion of my MA portfolio are the only things that stand in the way. Next week, it’s ‘go’ time.


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