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Getting the Words Right [Kindle Edition]

Theodore Cheney
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)

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Book Description

The Secret to Good Writing

When asked by the Paris Review what compelled him to rewrite the ending of A Farewell to Arms 39 times, Ernest Hemingway replied, "Getting the words right." His answer echoes what every successful writer knows: The secret to all good writing is revision.

For more than twenty years, Getting the Words Right has helped writers from all professions rewrite, revise, and refine their writing. In this new edition, author Theodore Cheney offers 39 targeted ways you can improve your writing, including how to:

  • create smooth transitions between paragraphs
  • correct the invisible faults of inconsistency, incoherence, and imbalance
  • overcome problems of shifting point of view and style
  • express your ideas clearly by trimming away weak or extra words
You'll strengthen existing pieces and every future work by applying the three simple principles—reduce, rearrange, and reword. Once the secrets of revision are yours, you'll be able to follow Hemingway's lead—and get the words right!



Editorial Reviews

About the Author

A longtime University professor, Theodore Cheney is also the author of Writing Creative Nonfiction.


Product Details

  • File Size: 1120 KB
  • Print Length: 257 pages
  • Publisher: Writer's Digest Books; 2 edition (May 17, 2005)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00506WXH2
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #243,618 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I have recommended this book for 10 years! November 21, 2005
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I'm the owner of a literary agency (About Words Agency), and when sending 99.95% of the submissions back to their authors for revision, I make sure to recommend Getting The Words Right, by Theodore Cheney in every single reply. I tell authors to read Stein on Writing, by Sol Stein, and then read Getting The Words Right. The two books work very well together. Cheney's method of working on the biggest problems first, like eliminating the first two or three chapters, and last of all, checking for smaller things such as spelling and punctuation, makes so much sense! It is the most efficient method of editing, and with increasingly busy lives, seems the most reasonable method as well. For a trademarked, innovative method of using your word processor to help you with the editing process, I also recommend Write in Style, by Bobbie Christmas. The competition for agents and publishers is fierce. If you want to get to the top of the pile, read and implement Getting The Words Right before you send in a query!
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great advice, unreadable type August 3, 2007
Format:Paperback
Theodore Rees Cheney is a favorite guide for improving my writing. This book is another great example of his sound advice, relevant examples, and useful exercises. But the type size is so small and faint I had to use a magnifier to read it and the decorative flourishes on each page quickly become an annoying distraction. Shame on the publisher for diminishing such a good work. 5 stars for the content; zero stars for the page design.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good content, poor book design September 14, 2008
By Elijah
Format:Paperback
Before I bought the book I saw a review that complained about the type size and page layout, and I thought that the reviewer was just nitpicking. BUT it turned out that the book's design DOES make it very hard to read. Other good choices that don't have this setback are Wm. Zinsser's On Writing Well and Sol Stein's Stein on Writing.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not a good Kindle Book January 11, 2012
Format:Paperback
I got this book first time around on my Kindle. Right off the bat, I realized I had made a mistake by purcahsing the book on my Kindle. This is the kind of book that you want to read and read and reread, you want to read it with a highlighter and make notes in the margin. After the first few pages I realized taht I had to buy the real thing so went back to Amazon and ordered the DTB. Now it sits on my desk as a valuable tool for every manuscript that I write.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The book on editing January 24, 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Every time I reread a section of this book I learn somthing new about editing my fiction.

The author convinced me early that he know what he was talking about and the conviction stayed throughout. It seems clear that he applied every single one of his editing maxims to the work itself. Practicing what he preaches.

Having first read copy from the library I immediately ordered my own and have re read most of it several times. I have no doubt that it will be read through many more times before I have absorbed all of the wisdom it contains
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Indespensible Book on Writing January 13, 2007
Format:Paperback
Every writer should have this at his side. I've read portions of it and then tried to apply Cheney's advice. What I most enjoy is that it really reads well, its not a tedious textbook. He really applies what he teaches, even an an academic work. I write inspirational nonfiction and I find myself incredibly inspired after I read a passage. Its an exceptional book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A pleasure to read, a treasure to own July 4, 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I was slogging my way through a novel when I downloaded Getting the Words Right by Theodore A. Rees Cheney. You might think the novel would have held my interest against a book subtitled: 39 ways to improve your writing. But, you'd be wrong. Even though the novel was written by a prize winning author and had a compelling plot and characters, the style was awful. It was as though I was riding a bike uphill into a headwind. Cheney's book was like coasting downhill. His book not only showed me why I hated reading the novel, but gave me clear examples of how writing can be improved--and why it should be. Cheney's style shows as well as tells what's good and what's better. The book is so well written, the examples so relevant, that any reader would enjoy it. Those who aspire to write well will treasure it. To top it off, Cheney includes his recommended readings: more good books for better writing in any genre.
Several reviewers have criticized the type size of the printed version. I recommend the Kindle edition for those of us who prefer larger type. I make use of the underlining functions and note taking features of the kindle and along with its search capability; I anticipate using my Kindle edition as a trusted reference tool.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Advice, Good Examples, Good Organization February 21, 2012
By Ohioan
Format:Paperback
I own and use an earlier edition of this book, and based on the reviews here, I'm glad I haven't updated to what appears to be a small-print, hard-to-read second edition.

Getting the Words Right is an excellent book, organized into three very large chapters, each with many subsections.

REVISION BY REDUCTION shows how to shorten or remove chapters, sections, paragraphs, or words.

RETHINK AND REARRANGE discusses subject matter, digressions, unified tone and style, consistent point of view and unity of character, tense consistency, and many other aspects of writing effectively. Coherence and Emphasis are explained in this chapter.

REVISE BY REWORDING talks about developing your own style, effective diction, strong verbs, limited modifiers, appealing to the senses. Individual sentences and words are examined in detail.

Highly Recommended!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars My son found and recommended this book to me
I am a want-a-be writer with no formal training. My son found and recommended this book to me. It has been a great help in so many areas and easy to understand. Read more
Published 15 days ago by Margaret Delp
2.0 out of 5 stars Stick with the first edition.
Very disappointed in this book. Bought the first edition years ago, liked it, and was expecting this to be an improvement. Not as good. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Jeffery A. Shive
5.0 out of 5 stars If you write, you need this book.
If you have already spent seven years writing your magnum opus this book might be painful. However, I think it is one of the most important and valuable any writer can have in... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Dragongunner3011
4.0 out of 5 stars Stumped by lost words! (I'm getting old and confused!)
I really haven't gotten into "Getting the Words Right" by Theodore Cheney {Kindle Edition] yet. I ordered it along with one to help me write better, "Grammatically Correct: The... Read more
Published 23 months ago by Pmp
5.0 out of 5 stars More than a Thesaurus
A Thesaurus is handy and I use one often when writing letters. But, using another word that may have a similar meaning may not be the correct word to express the meaning I am... Read more
Published on January 26, 2012 by Seek
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Book by a Master Craftsman
I followed the guidelines in this book, submitted my first novel, and had a sale in six weeks. That is not an exaggeration. Read more
Published on November 7, 2011 by Kayelle Allen
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic!
I loved this book. Cheney sytematically went through the aspects of writing, giving tips on how the techniques work and how to improve them. Read more
Published on December 19, 2010 by Shreen
5.0 out of 5 stars A must for writers--and, no you probably haven't seen advice offered...
I first saw a copy of this book, and then I quickly put it aside as I thought I'd already seen most of its content elswewhere. Wrong! Read more
Published on May 9, 2010 by John O. Meekins
2.0 out of 5 stars Words Right Print Wrong
This book is difficult to read. Period. The type is too small and the print is brown. The author presents basic rules of writing, but is wordy himself,a bit pretentious. Read more
Published on March 30, 2010 by Pam Jackson
5.0 out of 5 stars Cheney Gets His Words Right
I've been writing and editing off and on for about 25 years, and this is one of the best books I found on editing. Read more
Published on January 12, 2010 by S. G. Fortosis
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