Conan the Grammarian: Practical Guidelines on Grammar and Craft for Fiction Writers by Susan Mackay Smith

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

Conan the GrammarianConan the Grammarian: Practical Guidelines on Grammar and Craft for Fiction Writers humorously and concisely shows that grammar can be both entertaining and informative. Writers of fiction need to be able to tell their stories clearly and powerfully which makes a good knowledge of grammar essential. Through Smith’s alter ego Conan, it is clear that this book was written with a passionate love of language, and with the desire for authors, if they don’t share in that passion of language, not to make dumb writing mistakes which make Conan fly into a berserker rage.


Don’t be duped into thinking that Conan the Grammarian is a dullard because you happen to find grammar dull. Conan is incredibly witty and intelligent and has crafted a string of surprisingly funny sentences to prove his point. 

“She wore a dress the same color as her eyes her father brought her from San Francisco.” You’re smart and talented, and you have a suspicion that her father probably didn’t bring her a pair of eyes from San Francisco. You know when to laugh at your autocorrect when it incorrectly suggests you add a comma. In reality, you know the difference between to, too, and two, and there, their, and they’re. You’re a pro, right?

Maybe, but what about those other tricky situations? Do you think your editor will fix it? Good luck with that.


The topics included in the book make it clear that this grammar was written for novelists, but it is a good reference for anyone wanting to improve their writing skills. This is the rare kind of book that should be recommended reading for all aspiring writers and some professional ones.