Read The Book on Writing: The Ultimate Guide to Writing Well by Paula LaRocque Free Online
Book Title: The Book on Writing: The Ultimate Guide to Writing Well|
The author of the book: Paula LaRocque
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 358 KB
Edition: Marion Street Press, LLC
Date of issue: September 1st 2003
ISBN 13: 9780966517699
Read full description of the books The Book on Writing: The Ultimate Guide to Writing Well:I view The Book on Writing as the third member of the holy trinity consisting of On Writing Well and The Elements of Style (aka Strunk & White). Like these other two exalted texts, The Book on Writing is an advertisement for its own advice. The 233 pages flew by, despite what is arguably very dry subject matter.
A grab bag of my favorite points:
- Clarity is everything. Almost every aspect of good writing is built on the foundation of conveying your point clearly.
- Sentences should be less than 20 words. Vary sentence length within a paragraph.
- Sentences should be "quick, silken, and natural" such that it is understandable on a first reading. If the reader is inclined to go back to re-read the sentence in order to puzzle out its meaning, the writer has failed.
- Writing should be direct and forceful. One reason writers like to soften their message is if they aren't certain they're right. But being right is also part of the writer's job. If you find yourself wanting to pad your sentences with softening phrases, maybe what you really need to do is re-check your facts or your argument's logic.
- A great bit I'll quote in full: "Diamond Jim became known -- and named -- for his tasteless display of jewelery. When asked why he was so bedecked with gems, he is said to have responded: 'Them as has 'em wears 'em.' The newly rich Brady didn't understand the fallacy of ostentatious display (excess is vulgar) or the paradox of good taste (less is more). Good taste shows restraint and simplicity: Them as has 'em wears just one or two -- but the *right* one or two. The rest stay in the safe for another occasion."
- "Mimicry is the antithesis of freshness and originality in all craft and art."
- Don't "back into" an opening sentence with a long subordinate clause. This is incredibly common in formal writing for news articles or blog post. Here's a backing-in example: "Although the airline industry's attention right now is riveted upon simplifying fares and increasing profits, some executives are calling for more attention on safety standards." People don't talk this way, and you shouldn't write this way, either. Put the actor first: "Some airline executives are calling for more attention on safety standards, despite industry focus on simplifying fares and increasing profits."
Imagine two kids got into a fight on the playground. One of them ran up to you crying, and you ask what happened. Does he say, "During an altercation on the playground today, ..." or does he say "Billy hit me!"
Don't back in: get to the action immediately.
- Avoid extremely, totally, completely, entirely, really, etc. And their counterparts quite, rather, slightly, fairly, somewhat. Find the right single word -- for example, "gigantic" instead of "really big," or "tepid" instead of "somewhat warm."
- Use bullet lists, tables, and graphics to break up text when suitable. Similar to varying sentence length, varying presentation keeps the reader engaged.
- Build interest and suspense: don't say everything. At least, don't say it right now.
- Allusion makes the work bigger than itself since it salutes the world outside the work, knowledge shared between writer and reader but not from the work itself.
- Show, don't tell. "The worst description I ever read was by a best-selling novelist who sized up World War II this way: 'The war was just terrible.' Well... yes." "Good description is fast, spare, specific, and showing. Weak description is is slow, wordy, vague, abstract, and telling."
- "Irony is essentially an incongruity between word and meaning, between appearance and reality, or between action and consequence. Almost any definition of irony short-changes it, however. Irony is a detached, subtle, oblique product of intellect."
- A "zeugma" is a phrase like: "She tossed back her hair, her cloak, and a jigger of whiskey."
- Write Fast, Edit Slow
- "Those who love the arts can put up with a lot, apparently, but the thing even the most charitable audience cannot tolerate is boredom. We finally cannot forgive slow. That's because fast is interesting and slow is dull."
- Write fast by doing plenty of prep (assembling your main points, an outline, organizing notes) so that you can burn through the first draft without stopping. Don't check spelling, grammar, wording, stop to check facts or take a tangent to research something, or anything that interrupts your momentum. Just *write*. The rest can be done during editing.
- Writing flaws become speedbumps that impair fast (and therefore interesting) reading. Mistakes, ill-formed arguments, odd word choices, packing too much into sentences, and excessive parenthetical material all impede the reader's flow.
- "Nothing gets in the way of getting to the point like not *having* a point."
- "Writing is so much a product of thinking that you cannot separate the two, and shoddy thought necessarily results in shoddy writing."
- Overusing literary devices can come across as an affectation. For example, starting sentences with connecting words like "yet," "still," "but," or "indeed." This factor largely put me off of this otherwise potentially interesting book: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27...
Read information about the authorPaula is an editor, communications consultant, and author of nonfiction who has recently turned her attention to writing fiction. Her first novel, a mystery titled “Chalk Line,” will be published by Marion Street Press, Inc., in 2011.
Often hailed as one of America’s foremost writing coaches, Paula has conducted writing workshops for hundreds of media, government, academic, and business groups across the United States, Canada, and Europe. She also has served as a writing consultant for the Associated Press, the Drehscheibe Institute in Bonn, and the European Stars & Stripes in Germany.
From 1971 to 1981, she taught technical communication at Western Michigan University’s School of Engineering and, after moving to Texas, taught journalism at Texas A&M, Southern Methodist, and Texas Christian universities. From 1981 to 2001, she was assistant managing editor and writing coach at The Dallas Morning News.
She has been a columnist for the Society of Professional Journalists’ Quill magazine for more than 20 years. Her commentaries on the language air regularly on National Public Radio in Dallas, and she’s author of three books on writing (Marion Street Press).
After leaving The Dallas Morning News in 2001, Paula -- now a member of the Mystery Writers of America and of the Dallas-Fort Worth Writers Workshop -- wrote the first two books of a mystery series. The series features detective Ben Gallagher and is set in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
A member of the Associated Press Managing Editors association from the early 1990s through 2001, she was elected to the Board of Directors and appointed an officer. In 2001, the association granted her its highest honor: the Meritorious Service Award for exemplary contribution to journalism.
She earned a BA degree Summa Cum Laude in 1971 and an MA in 1972 (Western Michigan University). She also worked on a doctorate, but her career became so demanding she did not complete it.
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