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Stein on writing : a master editor of some of the most successful writers… (1995)

by Sol Stein

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6431727,928 (4.05)2
The master editor of some of the most successful writers of our century shares his craft techniques and strategies, including how to fix writing that is flawed, how to improve writing that is good, and how to create interesting writing in the first place.
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    The Writing Life by Annie Dillard (mcgilh)
    mcgilh: I use this book over and over again in my writing. It is a wonderful master writing class, chapter by chapter.
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» See also 2 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
It's full of writing tips that can be used right away. ( )
  troymcc | Jun 30, 2021 |
Definitely one of my top 10 writing guides. Comprehensive and detailed with a plethora of examples. Two techniques, which I haven't seen described in this useful and epiphanic way in any other book, stand out:

Particularity
We hear about avoiding clichés and generalities, but here Stein puts forward a positive admonition."To characterize, particularity is used to show how an individual looks dresses, or speaks without resort to cliches or generalizations." Triage revising
Instead of going through a page-by-page edit, you should fix the major problems first, much like a developmental editor would. I'll be using this revision process going forward."Even some of the most experienced authors are not aware of a better way of revising than repeatedly starting at page one and going through to the end... the writer, having gone through his entire manuscript, is likely to grow "cold" on his manuscript... What follows is a guide to the triage method of revision, which gives priority to those matters that are the principal causes of rejection by editors."The process is to make sure that you've achieved the following:

1) Humanized your characters.
2) Your villains are morally villainous rather than merely badly behaved.
3) Created a credible conflict between your protagonist and antagonist.
4) All your scenes are important and memorable.
5) All actions are clearly motivated.
6) Your first page is compelling enough for the reader to turn to page two.

His occasional self-aggrandizing salesman voice can be irritating, but don't let that get in the way of learning numerous, solid techniques to improve your craft. A must-read book on the craft of wrting! ( )
  quantum.alex | May 31, 2021 |
The chapter about computer software for writing is somewhat... humorous. ( )
  Paul_S | Dec 23, 2020 |
In my opinion, this is a fantastic book and a must for all budding writer's. ( )
  AWA1 | Sep 24, 2018 |
The story of my reading this book is way too simple: it just happened. Actually, I only read it on the second try. What changed? Well, my guess is that this time I read a little bit further than the first time, and this little bit was enough to finally get me hooked. So, yes, the fault lied on me and I’m solely to blame.

To cut even shorter an already short story, what happened is that on the first time around I stumbled on something on the introduction that made me think this was just a superficial self-help you can do it! kind of book that I’m not particularly very fond of. But this was very far from the truth.

To be fair, and before I get lost in adding anything else, let me cut to chase and just state the obvious: this is a great book. It doesn’t matter if you are into writing or not. For every single time we open a book we are on the receiving end of the writing process, so we share a not so unimportant part on that process. This means that knowing about the trade will inevitably make you a better and more demanding reader. And, believe me (for I have fallen into to that dark pit of prejudice before), this book will tell you a lot that goes behind the scenes when it finally comes to get that book you love so much onto your hands.

In my case, and on my intentions for reading this work, let me just get it straight and tell you upfront that I’m not harboring any grand desire to become a writer. If anything, and because I’m trying to graduate from college, my sole interest in knowing about the nitty-gritties of writing ends where the production of sensible non-fiction is concerned. And even here I was struck by another pleasant surprise. For even the most committed boring non-fiction writer such as myself will greatly benefit from reading Sol Stein’s advices contained in this work.

Truth is that every chapter, every example, every little particular detail that Sol Stein breaks down to you matters in finally understanding how great writing comes about and how to work your way to it (that is, if you’re really interested in overcoming whatever stands in your way).

This happens because Sol Stein, out of a depth of knowledge that only comes from a long and hard fought experience, gives you an authoritative outlook on the writing trade both as a writer and as an editor. This makes his advices even more pertinent, for these are not the run of mill this is how I’ve done it! kind of shallow biographical accounts, but more akin to a roadmap on how to get across every step of the way throughout the publishing process, and this from the perspective of an experienced and talented insider.

Enough is enough. The book is what you want to read (not this review). Find the time for it and get it done. If you’re into writing, you probably already stumbled upon very similar recommendations (I’m just adding my grain of salt onto that pile). And if you’re just a reader, get it done nonetheless. Next time you’re reading something else, you’ll have a sharper eye and you will be much more critical in your understanding. ( )
  adsicuidade | Sep 8, 2018 |
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The master editor of some of the most successful writers of our century shares his craft techniques and strategies, including how to fix writing that is flawed, how to improve writing that is good, and how to create interesting writing in the first place.

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