My book review in one sentence: “ The book on Writing by Paula LaRocque is an excellent guide, not only for those who don’t have English as their mother tongue, like me. I’m totally sure that could become a “bedside book” for all the English speaking writers. It has lots of clear guidelines and examples to make your writing better – Luis G.”
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MY PERSONAL REVIEW
This book was a present from a good friend some years ago. And yes, he was great at choosing it for me. Now that I started this new online project in English, it became essential to improve my English writing skills.
A CLEAR AND CONCISE GUIDE FOR EVERYBODY.
The structure of the book is really helpful. It has three different sections with this content:
- Writing Mechanics: A dozen guidelines to good writing.
- Storytelling devices.
- A handbook.
The three of them are really useful, but if I’d had to highlight one, it would be the first one. Those guidelines for good writing are pure gold. Bellow, you have some useful quotes from that section. They could give you an idea about how Paula LaRocque conceive good writing:
Keep sentences short. Vary sentence length to avoid tedium, but a safe average is probably around 20 words. There’s never just one way to rewrite a badly written passage, but clarifying the subject-verb-object relationship is one way.
Keep one idea per sentence.
Avoid pretensions, gobbledygook, and euphemisms. Short words are small, strong, and suited to storytelling.
Change long an difficult words to short and simple words. Whenever we have a choice, we choose the shortest words, we’ll create a clear and simple setting for those necessary complications, and long words will damage our writing less. Don’t expect to be easy; it’s harder than it looks.
Avoid beginning with long dependent phrases. Starting with a long and busy phrase is seldom attractive, however, because it violates clear and natural structure.
Cut wordiness. Make every word count.
Avoid vague qualifiers. “Very” is the most rampant four-letter word in English. “Very” drains life and vigor from otherwise robust expression. We can find the right word for our context and let it stand alone, rather than the almost right word, qualified.
Prune prepositions. Prepositions are vital, but the must be limited and controlled or they’ll fill the sentence with chaff, disrupt its flow, and force its rhythms into an annoying singsong.
Limit number and symbol. The “rule of three” applies to how many numbers a sentence can bear. Especially when they have different forms (percentages, fractions, written out, etc.).
As you can see, Paula has a clear vision of what good writing is. I’m sure that many of those people who consider themselves good writers are going to struggle to improve their writing following the guidelines above. I’ve written a book and I have to tell you that I had to use a lot of humility to accept that I made many of the mistakes she described.
WHAT YOU CAN LEARN FROM THIS BOOK?
- When writing, usually “less is more”.
- The person who writes best is not the one who uses more difficult vocabulary, but the right one.
- Storytelling is an art, but you can learn to make it better with some methodology.
- Being humble. If great writers are receiving coaching to do it better, imagine what you could improve following the suggestion of the book.
HAVE YOU ALREADY READ IT? DO YOU USE ANY OTHER BOOK TO MAKE YOUR WRITING BETTER? Tell me what do you think in the comments section or on the contact page.
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