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The Book on Writing: The Ultimate Guide to Writing Well Paperback – September 1, 2003
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Chapter 1: Keep Sentences Short, and Keep to One Main Idea Per Sentence
Chapter 5: Use the Right Word
Chapter 7: Prefer Active Verbs and the Active Voice
Chapter 8: Cut Wordiness
Chapter 12: Get Right to the Point. And Stay There
Although these and other of LaRocque's guidelines may seem obvious, my own experience as a classroom teacher suggests that few students seem to be aware of them...and even fewer follow them. (FYI, I taught English for 13 years in two New England boarding schools -- Kent and St. George's -- and for the past 10 years have been an adjunct professor of English at a local community college in the Dallas area.) What sets LaRocque's book apart from almost all others which cover much of the same material is that her personal, indeed conversational style establishes and then sustains a tutorial relationship with her reader; also, throughout her book, she includes hundreds of real-world examples of writing which is correct or incorrect, appropriate or inappropriate, effective or ineffective.Read more ›
She divides it into three parts:
Part I - a dozen guidelines in 80 pages: Keep sentences short, and keep to one main idea per sentence; avoid pretensions, gobbledygook, and euphemisms; change long and difficult words to short and simple words; be wary of jargon, fad, and cliche; use the right word; avoid beginning with long dependent phrases; prefer active verbs and the active voice; cut wordiness; avoid vague qualifiers; prune prepositions; limit number and symbol; get right to the point. And stay there.
Part II - Chapters 13 - 22, 10 points in 80 pages: This part is the meat, is the hardest to achieve, and is about telling your story. She fills it with examples from famous and not-so-famous authors, good writing and bad:
LaRocque: Creative writers can strengthen their work with allusions or quotations without explaining or attributing them. This is especially true of quotations, if they're well known. Sometimes both writer and characters can have fun with allusions or quotations, or otherwise find them useful in clarifying the action.
In Ruth Rendel's "Shake Hands Forever," her sleuth Inspector Wexford says on the phone to one of his investigators: "Howard, you are my only ally." Howard responds: "Well, you know what Chesterton said about that. I'll be at that bus stop from five-thirty onwards tonight and then we'll see.Read more ›
She defines and illustrates such divers topics as wordiness, jargon, vague qualifiers, archetype, and many more. Writing in which the narrative is elegant, concise, and easy for the reader to follow is decidedly not easy. After reading LaRocque, the verity of Mark Twain's admission that, "I would have written you a shorter note if I had had the time," will be more fully appreciated.
This is not a dry, pedantic `how to' book on writing. It is an entertainingly easy to follow guide on not only what to do, but just as importantly, what not to do. Building interest and suspense, creating word pictures, use of appropriate metaphor, and other writing techniques are explained and illustrated in this superb book.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Book was supposed to be new, it came in with the cover bent and sticky places. It was clearly used.Published 15 days ago by Amazon Customer
This book lists many guidelines to improve writing and the correct usage of many words usually used in a wrong way.Published 2 months ago by J. C. Pedro Arriaga
too much of the book taken up with lists rather than unique material.Published 4 months ago by Kate P.
The best book of it's kind. Anyone interested in improving his or her writing should buy it. I once went to a seminar conducted by the author. She's brilliant.Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
I recently purchased The Book on Writing by Paula LaRocque, which was enormously helpful in my long journey writing my first book. I only wish I had read the book sooner. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Amazon Customer
I really like The Book on Writing. It's very informative and thorough - covering topics of relevance both to fiction and non-fiction writers - yet manages to make enjoyable what... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Jaroslav Tuček