- Paperback: 63 pages
- Publisher: Fairwood Press, Inc; 1 edition (October 31, 1998)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0966818407
- ISBN-13: 978-0966818406
- Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.2 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 27 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #923,665 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The 10% Solution 1st Edition
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"Ken Rand has put together a succinct book packed with the kind of useful information it generally takes struggling writers years to learn on their own. The 10% Solution is concise, precise, and points out the kind of small but important trouble areas to help build a powerful narrative voice and a more firmly controlled style. Kudos to Ken Rand for putting his own advice into practice and offering to give others the benefit of his hard-earned knowledge." -- Tom Piccirilli, author of Hexes and The Dead Past
"The Ten Percent Solution is proof positive that effective books on writing need not be long or tedious. This is the best tool for writers that I've seen in many, many years. I've written fiction for thirty-five years, and taught fiction writing for twenty. During all those years I could have used The Ten Percent Solution. It would have helped me, and it would have saved my students a world of time.
"Ken Rand's twenty-five years of writing experience have produced a book that every writer needs. It is especially important for the writer who is still trying to break into publishing, but I would recommend it to the most experienced writers. It's a reminder that we should not get loose or sloppy." -- Jack Cady, author of The Off Season
"You could spend a gazillion bucks patronizing the Famous Writers School. Or you could pick up Ken Rand's economical text and pay scrupulous attention. The Ten Percent Solution is the Real Thing. The Write Stuff. Ken Rand and I share a common background, so I know right where he learned his hard lessons. This little book offers no magical shortcut; but it does distill many years'professional experience and common sense. When I suspect that one of my own stories is working, it's inevitably for one or more of the reasons Ken enumerates herein. The guy knows what he's talking about. If you're a long-time successful writer, pick this up as your refresher course. If you're an ambitious novice, consider this your bible." -- Edward Bryant, author of Flirting With Death
From the Author
Since The Ten Percent Solution: Self-editing for the Modern Writer came out at World Fantasy Convention in Monterey, Calif., in Oct. 1998, many writers have commented to me on the book. For example:
-- Poet Bill Ransom says poets understand that syllables are the basic component of rhythm, of sound. Syllables form the foundation of language--and The Ten Percent Solution.
-- Novelist Kevin J. Anderson noted his own pet peeves on the passive voice which should have been included in the book.
-- One writer who bought the book noted "writer's block is a thing of the past." This writer credits the book with helping him write 1,000 words an hour.
-- Despite efforts by editor Patrick Swenson and myself to carefully edit this book about self-editing, a typo got in. Good. It helps illustrate a point about the methodical technique central to The Ten Percent Solution.
-- Readers have mentioned how-to books that echo The Ten Percent Solution. However useful, many of those books could have benefited from the Ten Percent techniques. For example, Peter Elbow's Writing With Power has it right but takes too long to say so.
In developing The Ten Percent Solution, I've offered almost 30 years experience as a writer, editor, PR flack and so on to writers who want to write better. My other reason for writing the book: to learn from readers. School is never out.
I invite reader comments and critiques--not only to help make a better second edition (if sales merit one!), but to help me learn how to use my own technique better. If you have comments or suggestions, contact me at K.Rand@Genie.com.
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Rand's original contribution to this subject seems to be a list of words and suffixes that are likely to be found in sentences that need trimming. You put these into your word processor search function and use them to zoom in on trouble sentences. Nifty idea, but I'll probably continue to look at each sentence and decide if it needs tightening.
This book started out as a short article, and it should have stayed in that form - or become half of a chapter in a writing book. It is sadly padded out to justify its marketing as a $10 book: the font is huge, the beginning is just a bunch of autobiography and self-promotion of questionable value to writers.
I also find it strange that there are glaring mistakes here, in a book that says accuracy is the top priority in any piece of writing. Rand perpetuates a common misunderstanding of the meaning of the word "schizophrenic", and he misuses even simple grammatical terms like "passive voice" and "past tense". This is not to say that he doesn't know how to cut unneeded verbiage (which is the point of the book). He clearly does. But I'd prefer to get my advice from people who have their facts straight.
Finally, the subtitle ("Self-Editing for the Modern Writer") is a bit misleading. There is much more to self-editing (especially when it comes to fiction) than simply tightening flabby prose. Revising a draft also involves work on dramatic structure, internal consistency, description, point of view, style and voice, etc. If a beginning writer picked up this book and got the notion that the only difference between a draft and a finished story is that the latter has 10% fewer words (which is what Rand keeps saying), that would be very unfortunate.
Rand also gives encouragement to a rejected writer. There is a lot to learn in the rejection process. Don't give up.
Rand's book is short and helpful. I recommend it.
I do think it's worth getting, but keep this in mind:
The first 31 pages are infomercial: "Let me show you how this 10% solution will change your life!"
The second 31 pages are useful: "Follow these steps to find the padding that slows your writing" and it is helpful.
The catch is this: at the end, to show how one can be succinct, Rand includes the 500 word magazine article describing this "10% solution" process. All the info in this $5 book boils down to 500 words. The rest is fluff. Those 500 words are very valuable, helpful, and insightful words, and I'm glad I paid my penny a word, but I guess he couldn't sell a 500 word book to a publisher, so he "fluffed" it to 61 pages.
Ironic how this review can be 1000 words ... twice the length needed to describe the 10% solution.
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