Constance Hale

A few things about me… I have written six books, several of them on literary style (Wired Style,  Sin and Syntax, and Vex, Hex, Smash, Smooch). These are intended as romps through English and subversive guides to grammar and good writing. They have gotten me dubbed “Marian the Librarian on a Harley, or E. B. White on acid.”


If you are a lover of all things syntactical, you might enjoy my External link opens in new tab or windoweight-part series on sentences for “External link opens in new tab or windowDraft,” in the Opinion section of The New York Times. And check out External link opens in new tab or windowWriting Character, a primer chock-full of prompts on that most important aspect of the craft.


My other books are an intellectual coffee-table book on hula titled External link opens in new tab or windowThe Natives Are Restless and a picture book for children, set in Hawai‘i, called External link opens in new tab or window‘Iwalani’s Tree. I also write articles on politics, culture, history, and travel, as well as essays on everything from the name I share with my grandmother to my odd taste in food.


I grew up in Hawaii, speaking “proper” English at home and Hawaiian creole (or “Pidgin”) with friends. My weird bilingualism led to a fascination with the edges of English. I left the islands to study English Literature at Princeton, after which I wrote short stories and performed monologues in dim San Francisco coffeehouses. I can’t say I went straight after that, but I did earn a masters in Journalism at UC Berkeley, after which I worked as a reporter and editor at the Gilroy Dispatch, the Oakland Tribune, and the San Francisco Examiner. I truly started dabbling in the idiosyncrasies of the mother tongue, though, while copy chief at Wired magazine.


As a freelance writer, I’ve written about Latin plurals and Latino culture, Berkeley politics and Hawaiian sovereignty. The fascination with character has led to dozens of profiles. My stories have appeared in newspapers from the Los Angeles Times to the Miami Herald, as well as in magazines like The Atlantic, National Geographic Adventure, Afar, Smithsonian, Health, and Honolulu. I love the travel essay, and have been published in anthologies including France, A Love Story (Seal Press) and Best Travel Writing 2006 (Travelers’ Tales).


I am as passionate about editing and External link opens in new tab or windowteaching as I am about writing. I have edited more than three dozen books, on everthing from External link opens in new tab or windowleadership and red-state politics, to Mexican history and External link opens in new tab or windowwar and peace. I have also directed conferences for midcareer journalists, including the External link opens in new tab or windowNieman Conference on Narrative Journalism and UC Berkeley’s External link opens in new tab or windowLatest in Longform. I run an annual writers retreat in External link opens in new tab or windowHawaii and speak External link opens in new tab or windowall over the place. I am a founder of External link opens in new tab or windowThe Prose Doctors, an editors collective, and I work one-on-one with many published writers. (More on that work External link opens in new tab or windowhere.) I am a member of External link opens in new tab or windowThe Writers Grotto.


Oh, and if you’ve heard that I dance a damned good hula, I do.