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Keys to Great Writing

di Stephen Wilbers

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1831114,292 (4.11)Nessuno
"Designed to meet your specific needs, this guide presents writing instruction in easy-to-reference sections, so you can quickly troubleshoot problem areas or build your skills one step at a time."--BOOK JACKET.Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved
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I put off reading this book because it looked rather chunky and hardwork. Worse still, I had originally bought it for my son: to encourage him in his writing and give him a few pointers.....and, if it was going to be daunting for me then what chance did I have of getting son to read it? However, having made the start and being favourably impressed with the introduction: He says that there are five keys to great writing:
1.Economy...rejecting the notion that more is necessarily better.
2. Precision....ability to use the right word and make it memorable.
3. Action....making sentences tell stories....using verbs.
4. Music...the rhythm and sound of the language. (To me probably the most important element and also the most difficult to teach or learn).
5. Personality....establishing the sense of the writer as a person.
.....I was easily led into the rest of the book.
He also suggests in the introduction that there are a few myths about writing that should be demolished:
1. That only people with natural ability can learn to write well.
2. That people who are good at math and science are inherently incapable of using language effectively.
3. That writing competence is really just avoiding can be correct but wholly unreadable.
4. That learning to write well is easy if you just learn the tricks....that is does require effort and practice.
So, for me, this was a pretty good start. And he didn't let me down. The book is really easy to read...(as one would hope with a title like this). He follows his 5 principles outlined, above, as the basic structure and manages to weave a lot of great examples into his methodology.
He also gives suggestions such as: after a long sentence...use a short snappy sentence and invert the usual order to generate interest.
He contrasts great metaphors such as: "All the world's a stage".....and poor metaphors:.....such as "we must cherry-pick the cream of the crop" and I loved his example of some bad similes including the following: "McNeil fell twelves stories, hitting the pavement like a Hefty Bag filled with vegetable soup".
And in terms of valuing substance over style he quotes Vonnegut: "If a sentence, no matter how excellent, does not illuminate my subject in some new and useful way, scratch it out". He suggests trying to capture the flow and rhythm of natural speech. And in some cases reveal something of yourself. Reveal not only your thoughts but your feelings.
Wilbers also suggests that you write with purpose: about something you care about...and use the appropriate style for the audience: description to provide information, narration to tell a story, exposition to inform, persuasion to induce the reader to act in a certain way.
Plan your writing and think in paragraphs. Concentrate on beginnings and endings.
Make an outline...especially when the material is complex, lengthy or you need to collect your thoughts.
Maintain coherence: with sentences begin with new information...grabs the reader's interest and end with old information.
He summarises that writing is a 5 stage process:
1. Prewriting or preparing
2. Drafting; getting it done
3. Revising: fixing it up
4. Proof-reading: making it presentable.
My overall take on the book is that he does well what he sets out to do: I feel that I learned a lot. (Whether I can get my son to read.....and absorb it..... it is a separate challenge). Five stars from me. ( )
  booktsunami | Jan 17, 2020 |
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"Designed to meet your specific needs, this guide presents writing instruction in easy-to-reference sections, so you can quickly troubleshoot problem areas or build your skills one step at a time."--BOOK JACKET.Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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