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Write to the Point Reprint Edition

8 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0231075497
ISBN-10: 0231075499
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Editorial Reviews


Super-enriched how-to book... designed to get the beginner or the pro... past the struggles of writing to the rewards of sharing something useful.

(Christian Science Monitor)

The year's best book for encouraging the beginning, or the intimidated, writer.

(The New York Times Magazine William Safire)

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 226 pages
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press; Reprint edition (April 15, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0231075499
  • ISBN-13: 978-0231075497
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #835,112 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

William Stott--"Bill" to you and everyone who knows him--was born in New York City in June 1940 as France was falling to the Nazis. World War II has always been near the center of his emotional life and partly explains his having worked for the U.S. Foreign Service doing propaganda (then called "cultural relations," now "public diplomacy") during the Cold War 1960s; his posts were Dakar, Senegal, and Fez and Rabat, Morocco.

He found that what he liked best about the work was being a teacher and returned to the States, got a Ph.D. in American Studies at Yale, and taught for thirty years at the University of Texas at Austin. Along the way he was a Fulbright lecturer in London (1980-81) and Leiden (1986-87); gave talks--generally under U.S. government sponsorship--in more than a dozen countries; published five books (two in collaboration with his friend John Lee); and wrote several others he still hopes to do something with.

He has a daughter, son-in-law, two grandsons, two step-grandchildren, an ex-wife, a house (which he shares with indie filmmaker Bob Byington), and many friends in Austin; and a son and daughter-in-law (both architects) and another grandson in Los Angeles. He lives most of the time in Santiago, Chile, with his second wife and her daughter.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By on July 27, 1998
Format: Paperback
This is an excellent book. I would rate this as the best book on nonfiction writing. Bill Stott encourages you to break and bend the rules and tells you why you should start a sentence with "and" or "but." His writing flows perfectly and you can practically read it right through like a regular book. If you need suggestions on how to improve your writing slgihtly or a lot, this book is for you!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Antoinette Kohlman on February 23, 2008
Format: Paperback
I am a PhD student. This book was recommended by an instructor who cared about making me a better scholar. Stott's writing advice is crisp, clear, and actionable. After I implemented his recommendations, my assignments were consistently noted for their quality of expression. My writing is judged on what I say (content), not how I say it (style). I will always struggle with my writing. In spite of that fact, I now have a book that guides and encourages me with practical, effective advice. I wish I'd had this book earlier in my academic career!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Applied Sociologist on July 18, 2005
Format: Paperback
I had a Ph.D., needed to publish, thought I was a 'good writer' but in fact my writing was obtuse, rambled, unfocused and ineffective. A supervisor gave me this book. Within two years my writing was getting easily accepted for trade and academic publishing alike. Writing is now something I consider one of my strengths. I recommend this book to staff and students.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By frankp93 VINE VOICE on April 4, 2010
Format: Hardcover
It's been more than a few years since I sat in a college English class (and that was for the Ye Olde English of Chaucer). But I write a lot for work and enjoy reading up on ways to improve.

If your writing can also use work but you lack the time to crack open a massive Manual of Style or Writer's Guide or you're intimidated by the tone of such books, Bill Stott's Write to the Point might be the concise, encouraging and conversational alternative you need.

The thrust of Write to the Point is that insecure or inexperienced writers should not feel overwhelmed or burdened by conventional composition rules that claim to define Good and Correct Writing. Such writers should simply write as plainly as possible about ideas they care about. Ultimately, content trumps style and technique in nonfiction prose.

Stott doesn't advocate ignoring rules completely, he just wants them cut down to size a bit where they won't paralyze you with fear and constant censoring of your thoughts.

At least the first two-thirds of Stott's book focuses on where to get ideas and how to present them. Stott is a college instructor and addresses his typical audience both in his numerous student examples and his insights as a teacher. But he doesn't condescend and as someone whose a-long-way-from-college-student I found the book's tone to be intelligent as well as entertaining. Stott's breezy tone is encouraging and his willingness to disagree with some classic writing guides is refreshing.

The later section of Write to the Point does include grammar pointers on semicolons, apostrophes, etc., along my personal arch nemesis: punctuating sentences that contain quotes.
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