A Complete Guide
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An enthusiastic writing coach offers practical support.

In this upbeat self-help book, Brown gives advice for putting words together effectively and efficiently. She covers hundreds of different tasks, from resignation letters to classified ads, obituaries to wedding vows, Twitter posts to press releases. Her “proven process” takes the form of a spinner whose arrow points to one of six words indicating stages in the writing process: purpose, reader, brainstorm, organize, draft, revise. Writing rarely proceeds in a linear fashion, she writes, and she encourages writers to start anywhere: “You can start by brainstorming. You can start by writing an outline. You can start by drafting….The real key to success is not going through these six steps in any particular order but simply in ensuring that you’ve touched all these bases at least once.” For most of the writing tasks she considers, Brown shows both successful and unsuccessful samples. Weak pieces fail to consider the writer’s goals, have little sense of a reader’s needs, unintentionally convey a negative or hostile attitude, or use vague generalizations rather than concrete details. Although she doesn’t cover grammar, Brown insists that every piece of writing needs to be proofread—even emails. Up-to-the-minute sections cover personal blog entries, online reviews and Facebook status updates. The section on writing at school seems more appropriate to high school assignments than the analytical and critical essays required in college classes. More helpful is advice on how to write a high school work resume and an internship application letter, tasks that students often find daunting. The author brings considerable experience as a business-writing consultant to a section on writing at work, including Power Point presentations, minutes, job descriptions, cover letters and candidate rejection letters. Besides hints for language, content and organization, she reminds readers of the legal consequences of what they put in writing.

Brown’s concrete, common-sense approach makes this book a useful reference.

Pub Date: April 4th, 2014
ISBN: 978-0-393-24014-6
Page count: 560pp
Publisher: Norton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 2014


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