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Make Your Words Work: Proven Techniques for Effective Writing-For Fiction and Nonfiction Paperback – March 21, 2001

ISBN-13: 978-0595174867 ISBN-10: 0595174868

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 308 pages
  • Publisher: iUniverse (March 21, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0595174868
  • ISBN-13: 978-0595174867
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #358,891 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Because of his entertaining style, the late Gary Provost was one of the nations leading and most beloved writing instructors. A sought-after speaker, consultant, and celebrity biographer, Provost the writers writer authored thousands of articles and columns, and dozens of books covering most every genre. His highly acclaimed Writers Retreat Workshop, and video and audio courses remain available through writersretreatworkshop.com.

More About the Author

Because of his entertaining style, the late Gary Provost was one of the nations leading and most beloved writing instructors. A sought-after speaker, consultant, and celebrity biographer, Provost the writers writer authored thousands of articles and columns, and dozens of books covering most every genre. His highly acclaimed Writers Retreat Workshop, and video and audio courses remain available through writersretreatworkshop.com.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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See all 16 customer reviews
What matters is, he knew what makes good writing, and what makes writing work.
Joe Kenney
I have now read the book and a lot of my writing friends here in Sweden are eager to borrow it from me before they buy their own copy.
Scandinavian
I'm on a writing study binge, and have been reading a fair bit of highly recommended books (John Gardner, Nancy Kress, Swain).
James McPhate

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Matt Reagan on March 26, 2003
Format: Paperback
This book was my introduction into the world of good, gripping, and effective writing. I don't think I'll ever find a book more helpful than this. While other How-To-Write books pose good questions but provide very few answers, Provost gives you the lessons and advice that will make your writing sing. The fact that Provost knows what he is talking about is evident as soon as you read the first page. This is a How-To-Write book, and yet it's as hard to put down as a good fantasy novel. I've never read a book that has guided me so masterfully and that has enhanced my own writing so much. It's an invaluable guide to any writer. If you want to write well, buy this book.
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Antonio Goncalves on October 1, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an excellent how-to book, well-worth having. However, do not buy it if you already have Provost's "Beyond Style." "Make Your Words Work" is nothing but a (barely) repackaged version of "Beyond Style," with hardly any useful new material. Shamefully, nothing in "Make Your Words Work" references or even hints at its parentage. This book should have been entitled "Beyond Style, Second Edition."
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43 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Joe Kenney on January 31, 2001
Format: Hardcover
The fact that this book is out of print is a true indicator of how corrupt and twisted the "how to write" publishing industry really is. Why? Because this is the only writing book you'll ever need. So if you had it, you wouldn't have to spend your money on books like "How to write a best-selling novel in 5 minutes" or "YOU can write a classic," or other such stupid "guides," which usually are written by authors who have nothing else to their credit. Why read a book that claims it will show you how to write a best-seller, when the author himself hasn't written a best-seller? Gary Provost doesn't claim that he'll help you write a best-seller, he merely claims that he will help make you a better writer. And if you read the book, follow his instructions, and practice, you will become one. Provost wasn't a best-seller himself, and most of his books are out of print, but that doesn't matter. What matters is, he knew what makes good writing, and what makes writing work. And more importantly, he knew how to TEACH these principles. Hopefully one day this will be back in print. Until then, scour the used bookstores until you find a copy. You will be very glad you did.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By "rad_ink" on April 8, 2003
Format: Paperback
If I am able to write, it is all because of "Make Your Words Work."
Provost sets the tone of this book from the very first page when he asks the question "Can writing be taught?" and answers with "No, throw this book away."
This book taught me real methods for writing and editing what I write.
Provost also includes many exercises that aren't boring, and actually quickly enforce the point he is making in the chapters.
I've owned this book since 1991 and it is a book that I continually reference. And it's not only a great book of information, but it is also a great read.
Be thankful that this book is still available and buy it as soon as possible.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Maine Character on December 12, 2007
Format: Paperback
"Our English teachers were well-meaning, most of them, but they were hired to teach us good grammar, not good writing." - Gary Provost

Make Your Words Work is one of those books you're hesitant to pick up, thinking you're going to be bored with grammar, and instead find a delightful, informative read.

But don't take my word for it - listen to Provost himself: "Do you know what modal auxiliaries are? Can you explain the difference between determiners and adjectivals? I sure as heck can't, and I've sold sixteen books and a thousand short pieces."

Provost writes with a breezy, personal style, always clear and concise and often witty. It's as much about non-fiction as fiction, so you get a well-rounded set of tools you can adapt to any project you tackle. Provost also knows to avoid the tedium of long stretches of text, and so he breaks up each chapter into sections just a page or two long, with exercises, Coffee Breaks, and examples from TV and movies added in as well. It also doesn't hurt that the print is large and the layout easy to read, or that many of the chapters first appeared in Provost's articles for Writer's Digest.

Many books on writing just go on and on about vague topics like Theme, all airy philosophy, but Provost caters to none of that. He cuts the chatter and gives you what you need. It's the difference between a professor lecturing on the role of photography in the modern world and an actual photojournalist taking you out to a baseball game and saying, "This is how you set the shutter speed, and for sports you want it at 1/500th to freeze the action."

For an example of that, take Chapter Thirteen, on Tension.
Read more ›
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By James McPhate on November 29, 2009
Format: Paperback
I'm on a writing study binge, and have been reading a fair bit of highly recommended books (John Gardner, Nancy Kress, Swain). I have to agree with the other reviewers- this is by far the best book I've read, and it is comprehensive enough to replace most other books.

There are lots of examples to illustrate points, and just enough discussion of points to make them clear before moving on.

The exercises are great as well- there are many, but they are short and focused to the point being discussed. Many you can do in your head if you wish.

It's the type of book where when finished you really feel and see the improvement in your writing.

And at 294 pages its longer then most other writing books, which seem to all fall between 140 and 190 pages.
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