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Write Tight : How to Keep Your Prose Sharp, Focused and Concise / Edition 1

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Overview

"William Brohaugh provides a priceless gift - he teaches you how to say exactly what you want with grace and power, selecting not only the correct word, but also the right number of words. He discusses much more than redundancies and flabby writing. He also shows you how to tackle other sources of lifeless prose: evasiveness, blather, affectations, roundabout writing, self-indulgence, "inflated" and "deflated" language, tangents, and invisible - and therefore unnecessary - words." "Brohaugh examines concerns as small as excising unnecessary syllables (the "up" in "upon" is almost always removable) and as large as excising gratuitous book chapters. He demonstrates one of the paradoxes of good writing - it is almost always a result of balancing the tight and the loose. Tight writing can take the form of sentences cascading at great length off the page, while flabby writing can sometimes be as short as a single phrase." In Write Tight, you'll tackle compactness, concision, and precision with specific instruction and helpful exercises.

Telling writers how to say exactly what they want with grace and power, using not only the right word, but also the right number of words, Brohaugh tackles the compactness, concision and precision of writing with specific instructions and helpful exercises that help the writer explore the middle ground between tight and wordy.

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Editorial Reviews

Ingram
Telling writers how to say exactly what they want with grace and power, using not only the right word, but also the right number of words, Brohaugh tackles the compactness, concision and precision of writing with specific instructions and helpful exercises that help the writer explore the middle ground between tight and wordy.
Library Journal
Brohaugh's book reminds us that brevity is the soul of wit and that English is a mix of rules and exceptions to those rules. An editor for Writer's Digest , he has written extensively about the craft. This self-help work aimed at the active writer contains 192 pages identifying and correcting the many errors made by those who write seriously. It assumes knowledge of grammar and instead emphasizes style. The chapters are broken into short sections with bold topic sentences each supported by examples. This, with the promised index, should make this book useful as a quick reference tool. Also included is an appendix of redundant phrases. The occasional comparisons to the care of bonsai and the good humor sprinkled throughout aid in readability and comprehension. Recommended for public and academic libraries and for individuals who care about their writing skills.-- Robert C. Moore, DuPont Merck Pharmaceutical Co. Information Svcs., North Billerica, Mass.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781882926886
  • Publisher: ISI Books
  • Publication date: 1/28/2002
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 200
  • Product dimensions: 6.24 (w) x 9.33 (h) x 0.74 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Write Tight

How to Keep Your Prose Sharp Focused and Concise
By William Brohaugh

ISI Books

Copyright © 2007 William Brohaugh
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-882926-88-6


Foreword

By Stanley K. Ridgley

You have to love college writing courses.

Well, you must at least spare some love for the idea of college writing courses. Unfortunately, my experience is that with respect to most undergraduate college writing courses, it's love unrequited.

They don't deliver. By this, I mean that college writing courses don't teach college students how to write.

It's true. They don't.

Now, perhaps this is an exaggeration, an overgeneralization. Maybe. But I've been jaded by enough anecdotal evidence and by enough first-hand dealing with undergraduate writing to know that someone isn't doing the job, regardless of who the folks might be. Moreover, mine is not a voice crying in the wilderness. In fact, there's a whole chorus that's been growing for years now.

Now, why is this?

Perhaps it's because graduate students-many of them fresh out of school themselves-teach the writing courses. Often, these grad students themselves don't really know how to write convincingly, clearly, succinctly

Oh, they may know theory. They may know thought. They may know theme. And they may know deconstruction. They may refer with a thoughtful nod to the "muse."

But they don't know how to write to communicate, to connect with the reader, to convey ideas from one person to another via the written word. Indeed, I venture to say that the affliction of postmodernism has reduced many of our university writing programs to a waste of time at best and to crude propaganda sessions at worst.

Enter Write Tight.

Write Tight is one of the best books on writing ever written. I firmly believe that, and mind you, I have collected on my bookshelf in the past fifteen years more than two hundred different books on writing-from Jacques Barzun to William Zinnser to George Orwell. Write Tight is a doozy.

I'm fond of saying that Write Tight's chapter 2 is, by itself, worth the price of the book. Read it, and I'm certain you'll agree with me. But one of the joys, of course, is that you needn't stop at chapter 2.

The entire book is a trove of journalistic jewels, and one of its secrets is its premise that writing is as much craft as art, and, because of this, better writing can be taught. There exist rules that, if followed, will lift your prose above the mundane and just plain bad. You will become a better writer as a result of this book in spite of yourself.

And this is why I rejoiced at discovering Bill Brohaugh's Write Tight several years ago. I conduct a regular writing seminar for college students, and at the time I was looking for a companion volume to go with Strunk and White's Elements of Style. When I found Write Tight, I immediately ordered every remaining copy from the warehouse-a total of 105.

So, while for several years I had a personal stock for my writing seminars, Write Tight was simply unavailable to the millions of college students who would benefit from its use.

Then, I, too, was running out of copies. The book was out of print. What could I do?

Rather than find a substitute, I went to the source, Mr. Brohaugh himself, a longtime editor of Writer's Digest.

After a back-and-forth (these things always must go back-and-forth for at least a bit) ISI Books decided to continue Write Tight in print, and Mr. Brohaugh agreed that this should be done. And that is how we have arrived at this, another occasion for rejoicing-the publication of Write Tight's second edition.

Mr. Brohaugh has packed into this book more quality writing instruction than you will find in any writing course on any university campus in America. Why? Because it is definite, concrete, uncompromising, and clear. It is forthright.

In the argot of another decade, Write Tight "tells it like it is."

Not what you wish it might be.

Not that you are already a great writer, fully formed.

Write Tight hits the fundamentals. Hard.

I wish that this book had been available to me as an undergraduate. Failing that, I now hope that we can put as many copies of Write Tight into the hands of as many undergraduates as possible as a bracing tonic to all the high-priced hackery and puffery and pretension that masquerades as art.

You will become a better writer as a result of this book. That's a guarantee that Bill Brohaugh is too modest to make. So I'll do it for him.

You will become a better writer as a result of this book.

I guarantee it.

- STANLEY K. RIDGLEY, Ph.D. Wilmington, Delaware

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Write Tight by William Brohaugh Copyright © 2007 by William Brohaugh. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: A Tight Fit Into Today's World 1
1 The Four Levels of Wordiness and How to Tackle Them 4
2 Sixteen Types of Wordiness and How to Trim Them 16
3 Prewriting Tight 77
4 Testing Your Writing for Flab 85
5 The Danger Signs of Wordiness 106
6 Exercises for Developing Your Awareness of Concision 116
7 Reducing the Mental Length of Your Manuscript 124
8 Nonverbal Streamlining 130
9 How Tight Is Too Tight? 143
10 Putting It All Together: Writing Light 155
11 Tips for Trimming During Manuscript Revision 168
12 Shave and a Haircut and a Few Bits 175
Bibliography and Sources 181
App A Baedeker of the Redundant 185
Apologia 189
Index 191
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