Customer Review

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A classic exposition of the writer's art, 18 Mar 2011
This review is from: Essential English for Journalists, Editors and Writers (Pimlico) (Paperback)
Following in the tradition of the great teachers of good English style like George Orwell, I doubt there is a better book on the journalistic or writer's art, or good style in general than this. A few uncharitable reviews suggest the book is 'only for journalists': nonsense. A few of the chapters are clearly aimed at newspaper writers, but most of the book provides universal examples of good writing and editing techniques and best practice that will improve the quality of any writer's work, even fiction writers (perhaps them most of all, who often have no clue about good style and could do with going back to basics). For instance, there are several long lists of useless or misleading words and phrases that one sees in newspapers everyday, but which can easily be eliminated to improve readability, such as 'the fact that..' can normally be substituted by 'that' or 'regularly' instead of 'on a regular basis' and many other examples. It provides a general guide to the principles of good style, and as someone who writes in other languages besides English, I know these are universal. The book's structure allows you to dip in and out of it whenever you need tips or advice, and so functions as a readable reference work, but it can also be read cover-to-cover, which is worth doing at least once, as it's humorously written with lots of insightful examples. For instance, Evans explains how British journalism has paper rationing during and after the war to thank for becoming the most concise among the Anglo-Saxon countries, forcing writers and editors to ruthlessly cut excess verbiage, the surest way to improve readability and precision of a text as he demonstrates throughout.

This work is an essential companion for anyone involved in serious and regular writing or editing of any kind, and which provides the best exposition of good style in print today. One critical point is that some of the examples are somewhat dated and for the book to maintain its freshness and appeal to modern audiences, the publishers ought to consider taking examples from contemporary reporting, of which there are unfortunately plenty. That's why only 4 and not 5 stars. Finally, for those who are looking for a guide to fiction and story writing, they might consider Stephen King's On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft.
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