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The New Oxford Guide to Writing Paperback – April 28, 1994
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There is an apparently endless supply of books about writing. Very few of those books, surprisingly, offer a thorough and scholarly approach to the basics: words, sentences, and paragraphs. The New Oxford Guide to Writing does. According to author Thomas S. Kane, writing is "an exercise of mind requiring the mastery of techniques anyone can learn." Kane's not claiming he can create a genius, but, as he says in his introduction, "you don't have to be a genius to write clear, effective English." The writing that Kane refers to here is expository and persuasive in nature--writing most likely to be required in day-to-day life. In great detail Kane explores the building of an essay, the development of paragraphs, the styling of sentences, the use of diction, and, finally, issues of punctuation. It is unlikely that very many writers have scrutinized the building blocks of language the way Kane has, but it's never too late. Rare is the sourcebook that can offer so much both to beginners and experts alike. And anyone who loves words will thrill to encounter--if he or she hasn't done so already--the freight-train sentence, parataxis, the triadic sentence, polysyndeton, asyndeton, collocation, and zeugma. --Jane Steinberg
From Library Journal
Kane, who also wrote the earlier Oxford Guide to Writing (1983), leads the student in some detail through such fundamentals as planning the writing project, grammar, style, and things to avoidall with a view to developing command over the niceties of proper expository prose. The early chapters conclude with short practice exercises. Throughout, excerpts from distinguished authors are offered as examples. Major sections are devoted to the essay, paragraph, sentence, diction, description and narration, and punctuation. A bit stuffy for general readers, and aspiring creative and professional writers might not buy into all this self-conscious correctness. Still, suited for use in college English courses or as an extra reference in libraries not overstocked on this subject. William A. Donovan, Chicago P.L.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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This book--"The New Oxford Guide to Writing" by Thomas S. Kane--however, could have been given such a title. Kane offers suggestions and examples for the whole writing process. He covers the initial stages of brainstorming and the final stages of composition. Organization of paragraphs and construction of sentences are discussed; he provides examples from various authors, topics, and expository mediums. In addition, Kane includes suggestions for style, such as figures of speech and rhetorical devices. It is not comprehensive treatment, for these are subjects unto themselves. Yet, the suggestions are useful and to be noted: literary and rhetorical style distinguishes great writing from good writing. Kane also provides suggestions for narrative and descriptive writing, which all --whether creative or quarterly report writers--can use to create organized, engaging text . Lastly, Kane reviews both formal and stylistic punctuation.
Not only creative writers or students will benefit but also those in business, legal, and management settings will as well.
A few suggestions:
For those interested in rhetorical style and figures I recommend "Farnsworth's Classical English Rhetoric." It reviews about twenty of the most common and practical rhetorical figures ( or devices). The rhetorical figures are illustrated with excerpts from the writing/speeches of admired English language writers/speakers ( e.g. Lincoln, Dickens, Shakespeare, etc...)
For those interested in sentence styling and who believe that the sentence is the most important unit of composition: consider "The Art of Styling Sentences." Like the recommendation above, it makes use of examples from varied sources to illustrate.
For those interested specifically in business writing: "Writing that Works; How to Communicate Effectively in Business" is recommended.Clarity, precision, organization and concision are elements of effective and productive business writing. This books reviews these aspects and offers suggestions for improvement.
I still remember an illustrative example somewhere in the initial pages. What is not so good about the sentence "She dresses in a beaatuful manner" ?. Well, it becomes more effective when written as "She dresses beautifully". In the long phrase "in a beautiful manner", the focus is dissipated over many words. Whereas, "beautifully" compresses meaning in one word and what's more, it sits at the end of the sentence, tending to stay in the reader's mind longer.
The book is full of such fine points and subtle techniques. Kane has taken a wonderfully orderly approach to teaching the writing process right from the basic element - the sentence, to the whole picture - the essay. Gradually building layer on layer, you see how the parts make the whole and how different aspects of writing contribute to the reader's final experience.
There are many meaningful exercises that will make you understand the huge number of tehcniques. Another important feature of the book is its examples of different types and styles of writing taken from a wide range of well known authors -Bertrand Russell, Samuel Johnson, E B White, Virginia Woolf, G K Chesterton, H G Wells, Mark Twain and so on. Kane takes each excerpt from these authors and explains why they work.
With a little effort, you can start writing almost as well as them, at least you'll know how those great authors thought before penning their ideas.
The book is set in very eye-pleasing font and well presented. Get the hardback if you can. If you're really interested in writing, this is a book you'll want to treasure.