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The Book on Writing: The Ultimate Guide to Writing Well 4/14/13 Edition
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About the Author
- Item Weight : 12.8 ounces
- Paperback : 254 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0989236706
- ISBN-13 : 978-0989236706
- Dimensions : 6 x 0.58 x 9 inches
- Publisher : Grey and Guvnor Press; 4/14/13 edition (May 14, 2013)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #488,710 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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LaRocque breaks down the book into three sections.
Part one talks about writing mechanics and provides guidelines for good writing. It looks at sentence structure, word selection, and active versus passive voice.
Part two is how to write the story well. This section contains information on how speed bumps can disrupt the flow of the story; how you don’t want to give away too much, at least not right away; and how carefully chosen words can create powerful images for the reader.
Part three closes by looking at some writing myths and some of the more commonly asked questions on writing, grammar, and punctuation. Overall, an informative read and a good book to add to your library.
Throughout my career I have attended numerous presentation and communication seminars. As such, I have already crossed the path of many of the principles within this book. However, they're so easily forgotten, and Paula's book places them conveniently within reach for future reference and as a continual reminder. This is a book I'll be referring to many times over as I attempt to progress my hobby into profession.
I can't imagine there being any more content to cover as a writer; though it would not surprise me if there was as the domain of writing is vast and continually evolves to meet the unsatiated demand's of the reader.
“To write simply is as difficult as to be good.”
“…having knowledge is useful only if we can convey it clearly and briefly—and that means translating the complex into the simple.”
“It’s as though we offer ourselves more latitude to write poorly when the subject is challenging. But that’s the very time we must be at greater pains to simplify and clarify.”
“The big question in rewriting dense and fuzzy passages is the writer’s meaning. Sometimes it takes some digging to discover the embedded message, but once it’s unearthed, you’ll find it’s nearly always simple rather than complex.”
The book's two main parts focus on writing mechanics and storytelling devices. They are both quite helpful and the excerpts used by the author to illustrate her points generally excellent.
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.
In Chapter 23, LaRocque includes "A Brief (But Not Necessarily Easy) Quiz" which I encourage everyone to take before reading anything else in the book. The quiz consists of 20 sentences. LaRocque then identifies "common grammar and punctuation problems that trouble many people," followed by "A Pronoun primer" because she asserts (and I agree) that proper use of pronouns will solve most of the most common grammar problems. By first taking the quiz and then reviewing the explanations and pronoun primer which follow, most readers will have a strong motivation to absorb and digest the material provided in the other 24 chapters.
I anticipate that many of them will then purchase copies of The Book on Writing to be given to family members, friends, and associates. It would be an especially appropriate birthday, holiday, or graduation gift to students as well as to those recently embarked on their career, perhaps accompanied by a copy of Orwell's A Collection of Essays and/or Essays of E. B. White (Perennial Classics). Both are also available in an inexpensive paperbound edition.
Paula LaRocque, well-done!
Top reviews from other countries
A much more extensive book is Style: Lessons in Clarity and Grace (various editions), so maybe that's the ultimate guide to writing well. I'd recommend it over LaRocque's book.
Es un libro que debes de leer más de una vez, para no olvidar todos los tips y recomendaciones que encuentras en cada uno de los capitulos del libro.
Les revues commentées de texte sont nombreuses et un peu rébarbatives. Le style est parfois un peu alambiqué ce qui rend la lecture difficile (dommage pour un ouvrage sur l'écriture !).
Enfin, les conseils de grammaire anglaise sont inutiles si comme moi vous rédigez dans une autre langue.
Bref, je vous recommande plutôt le classique de Gary Provost: 100 Ways to Improve Your Writing