Getting the Words Right

Front Cover
Writer's Digest Books, May 17, 2005 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 256 pages
2 Reviews
The Secret to Good Writing

When asked by the Paris Review what compelled him to rewrite the ending of A Farewell to Arms 39 times, Ernest Hemingway replied, "Getting the words right." His answer echoes what every successful writer knows: The secret to all good writing is revision.

For more than twenty years, Getting the Words Right has helped writers from all professions rewrite, revise, and refine their writing. In this new edition, author Theodore Cheney offers 39 targeted ways you can improve your writing, including how to:

  • create smooth transitions between paragraphs
  • correct the invisible faults of inconsistency, incoherence, and imbalance
  • overcome problems of shifting point of view and style
  • express your ideas clearly by trimming away weak or extra words
You'll strengthen existing pieces and every future work by applying the three simple principles—reduce, rearrange, and reword. Once the secrets of revision are yours, you'll be able to follow Hemingway's lead—and get the words right!

 

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User Review  - aethercowboy - LibraryThing

I have read many books on writing in the past. Several dealt with grammar, or structure, or plotting, or selling, or any of the other aspects of writing that everybody struggles with. However, Getting ... Read full review

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User Review  - jacob.c.wright - LibraryThing

Fantastic. No doubt that this book made me a better writer. Accessible, practical, and fun to read. Read full review

Contents

Shorten or remove whole chapters sections and paragraphs
7
Shorten or remove superfluous ineffective or redundant sentences and words
15
Replace longer words with shorter ones
37
REARRANGE
43
Keep unity of subject and scope
45
Keep a unified tone
48
Keep a unified style
51
Keep a consistent point of view and unity of character
53
Vary the length of sentences paragraphs and chapters
126
Emphasize through careful word choice and positioning
129
Use spaces pauses and special typography for extra emphasis
133
Avoid things that kill emphasis
140
REWORD
146
Develop and recognize your own special style
149
Select the best word best phrasing most effective diction
154
Improve your diction with shorter more active words
157

Keep episodes unified
55
Keep verb tenses consistent
60
Keep paragraphs and sentences to the point and unified
63
Organize according to the logic of time space and degree of specificity
70
Avoid pronoun ambiguity
73
Use coherent word order and phrasing
76
Use parallel structure
82
Make effective transitions
87
Establish coherent beginnings
101
Develop consistency through the middle
107
Write effective and coherent endings
109
Put the parts into the right proportions
112
Put important things anywhere but in the middle
115
Understand the psychology of emphasis
116
Use effective repetition of words phrases sounds and ideas
123
Scrutinize your webskeep them active
165
Limit modifiers
177
Appeal to the senses
179
Use concrete details
183
Be sensitive to rhythm and sound
187
Use the sounds of words and words that imitate sounds
199
Use figurative language
201
Watch out for misuse of figurative language
208
Avoid distractors and detractors
214
Watch for common misspellings and incorrect usages
223
AFTERWORD
236
RECOMMENDED READINGS
237
INDEX
246
Copyright

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About the author (2005)

A longtime University professor, Theodore Cheney is also the author of Writing Creative Nonfiction.

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