Do I Make Myself Clear?: A Practical Guide to Writing Well in the Modern Age

Do I Make Myself Clear?: A Practical Guide to Writing Well in the Modern Age

by Harold Evans
Do I Make Myself Clear?: A Practical Guide to Writing Well in the Modern Age

Do I Make Myself Clear?: A Practical Guide to Writing Well in the Modern Age

by Harold Evans


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A wise and entertaining guide to writing English the proper way by one of the greatest newspaper editors of our time.

Harry Evans has edited everything from the urgent files of battlefield reporters to the complex thought processes of Henry Kissinger. He's even been knighted for his services to journalism. In Do I Make Myself Clear?, he brings his indispensable insight to us all in his definite guide to writing well.

The right words are oxygen to our ideas, but the digital era, with all of its TTYL, LMK, and WTF, has been cutting off that oxygen flow. The compulsion to be precise has vanished from our culture, and in writing of every kind we see a trend towards more — more speed and more information but far less clarity.

Evans provides practical examples of how editing and rewriting can make for better communication, even in the digital age. Do I Make Myself Clear? is an essential text, and one that will provide every writer an editor at his shoulder.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780316509190
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication date: 09/04/2018
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 448
Sales rank: 466,104
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Harold Evans (1928-2020) was a British-born journalist and writer who was editor of the Sunday Times from 1967 to 1981. A graduate of Durham University, he wrote a number of bestselling histories. He followed the late Alistair Cooke in commentaries on America for the BBC. An American citizen after 1993, he held positions as editor-in-chief of the Atlantic Monthly Press, founding editor of the prize-winning Condé Nast Traveler; editorial director of the Atlantic and US News and the New York Daily News; and president and publisher of Random House.

He held the British Press Awards' Gold Award for Lifetime Achievement of Journalists. In 2001 British journalists voted him the all-time greatest British newspaper editor, and in 2004 he was knighted. 

Table of Contents

Introduction 3

I Tools of the Trade 7

1 A Noble Thing 9

2 Use and Abuse of Writing Formulas 32

3 The Sentence Clinic 50

4 Ten Shortcuts to Making Yourself Clear 84

5 Please Don't Feed the Zombies, Flesh-Eaters, and Pleonasms 148

Interlude: Give the Bard a Break 185

II Finishing the Job 187

6 Every Word Counts 189

7 Care for Meanings 200

8 Storytelling: The Long and Short of It 231

III Consequences 257

9 Steps Were Taken: Explaining the Underwear Bomber 259

10 Money and Words 272

11 Buried Treasure: It's Yours, but Words Get in the Way 298

12 Home Runs for Writers 325

Afterthought 351

Acknowledgments 357

Answers to "Man or Machine?" 363

Analysts: The Bomber-How 2,567 Words Became 1,030 365

Bibliography 399

Index 415

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“Clarity and wit have something in common, and it's Harry Evans. He clears a path through the thorny underbrush that stands between us and meaning, and he does it with cutting humor and graceful charm. He certainly does make himself clear, and us, too.” -Alan Alda, Actor and Writer

“The great French writer Émile Zola said that his prose style was "forged on the terrible anvil of daily deadlines," but the anvil of journalism is no use without the hammer of a great editor. Few if any wordsmiths hit harder than Sir Harold Evans. From the foggy corridors of Fleet Street to the lofty heights of Manhattan publishing, he has dedicated his life to hammering sloppy verbiage into plain English. Witty, wonderfully well written, but above all wise, Do I Make Myself Clear? should be required reading for all who scribble, type, or otherwise 'word process.' " -Niall Ferguson, Senior Fellow, the Hoover Institution, Stanford

“Harold (Harry) Evans is a writer and thinker of deep and celebrated accomplishment and marked independence, and his new book on how our government hides behind a word it's never even heard of- prolixity - is acutely on target.” -Peggy Noonan author of The Time of Our Lives

“Read this book before you write another word. As original as it is entertaining, Harold Evans' guided tour of every nuance of our language amounts to a masterly reappraisal of English usage for our times by a consummate editor turned writer.” -Anthony Holden editor of Poems that Make Grown Men Cry

Harry Evans is one of the great -- indeed legendary -- editors of our time. Over the course of his career, he has edited newspapers, books and magazines, which surely qualifies as a publishing trifecta. All his talents -- and irresistible charm -- are on display in Do I Make Myself Clear? It's much more than a guide to English usage -- it's a companion: informative, delightful and indispensable. Do not hit INT or SEND without it! -Christopher Buckley author of Thank You For Smoking

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