Tag Archives: writing how-to

The Best Book on Revision, Period

Courtesy http://www.sxc.hu

If you’re up early to get that post fixed so that it’s ready to publish, but you can’t seem to get the wording quite right.  Here’s a book that can help:

Getting the Words Right: How to Revise, Edit & Rewrite by Theodore A. Rees Cheney.

There are a number books on writing well  that include the topic of revision among others that I find helpful.  Several of them focus on fiction-writing.

Why then this book? Because Cheney gets down into the word-for-word, phrase-by-phrase, sentence-after-sentence trenches.  His focus is not on fiction-writing techniques  but on all writing and, as his title implies, on “getting the words right.”

Here are a few choice quotes:

“Diction lies at the heart of style.”

“A process central to writing—careful thought”

“Are the words together that belong together?”

The book lives up to its title. Plus, I think Cheney included just about every revision and rewriting technique in existence for improving my writing. So it’s very useful to me for recalling all the things I can do when editing. and also for reminding me of some  techniques I can profitably use more often.

I can thumb my way through my thoroughly-underlined and highlighted copy of this book and more often than not discover what is wrong with that piece I’m working on.

Theodore Cheney was an interesting guy.

At 17 he traveled to the Antarctic with Admiral Byrd, the pioneering American aviator and polar explorer,  and later returned on excursions of his own to polar regions. He earned degrees in geology and geography. He published books and earned an MA in communication. He held a position as a senior scientist at a “think tank.” And he conducted writer workshops and was the director of the Writing Concentration Program at Fairfield University.

This book has come out in a newer edition: Getting the Words Right: 39 Ways to Improve your Writing. I prefer the older version, previous title above.  Both are available at online bookstores.

Mr. Cheney also wrote Creative Non-fiction Writing that details how a writer can use fiction devices to add drama and vividness to her non-fiction work.

Highly recommended

What books on writing have you found helpful, including those that cover revision? Please feel free to comment and share.