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Recommending Books - by vivacious
Table of Contents:

1. Letter from the Editor
2. Editor’s Picks
3. Ask & Answer

Editor of the Writing.Com Reviewing Newsletter Issue #8 is: vivacious

Letter from the Editor:

This issue ties in with Pen Name ’s previous edition about how to tackle the poorly written item, as well as Arwee ’s last issue about explaining in our reviews.

How many writing books do you own?

I counted mine, and I don’t know whether to be embarrassed or proud, but it adds up to thirty one - assuming I didn’t miss any buried in my teetering piles on the floor because I have no more bookshelf space.

Some I admit buying years ago and not read. It’s like I expect to glean all the information contained within by osmosis. Hasn't worked yet, but I'm hopeful . . .

Others are dented, bent and otherwise damaged due to much use because I learned so much from them. This list is short: Three.

I bet most of you have a similar list - both of the many books on writing you’ve purchased, read once or not at all, and those you can’t live without.

In some of my reviews I’ve recommended these three books. Sometimes, as Pen Name pointed out, an item is rife with so many similar difficulties and errors we would have to rewrite the entire item to point them all out. When I run into this, I point out one or two errors, then recommend the writer read a specific book that helps to seek out and eliminate them.

This also can help with what Arwee suggested about explaining why we consider
an error an error. Much of what we learn to improve our writing comes from writing books.
Recommending a book instead of pointing out every mistake saves the reviewer and the
reviewee time, as well as gives the reviewee an opportunity to learn even more about
writing than they can through reviews alone.

My short list is as follows:

1. “Elements of Style” by Shrunk and White. Whether the writer be a professional, a student writing an English composition, or someone seeking employment via letter correspondence, this is the book to have. It’s simple, yet covers a multitude of subjects ranging from the proper use of apostrophes to common word-usage mistakes.

2. “Write Tight” by William Brohaugh. I discovered this little gem from a book club I belong to. I tend to be wordy (before reading this book I would have worded it “I have a tendency to be wordy”). The book not only discusses how to cut down on wordiness, but how to focus on our subjects, and eliminate unnecessary, and therefore frustrating and boring to the reader, words, paragraphs, even chapters of novels.

3. “Self-Editing for Fiction Writers” by Browne and King. The first agent I sent my novel to was an editor for fifteen years prior to becoming an agent. After I stopped crying over the rejection, I took his advice and bought this book. I devoured it in four days, and understood then my manuscript deserved to be sent to the garbage can - at least how it was then written.

Though written for fiction writing, it can be a useful resource for nonfiction writing as well. Sometimes nonfiction requires telling a story, including dialogue, and it contains other advice such as eliminating passive verbs for active ones.

I recommend these books in my reviews because I trust anyone who buys or checks them out at their library will improve their craft.

Editor’s Picks:

Instead of Editor’s Picks, I instead offer an assignment. Assemble a list of your favorite books no writer should be without, and explain why for each one. They don’t need to be limited to general writing, either. If you have a book on poetry, inspirational writing, articles, or any other subject, please share them.

Ask & Answer:

Thank you for the great responses to my last newsletter about basic review structure!

From sully:

Really good newsletter. I agree with what you said. I was terrified the first time I posted something here on WDC. After a year and countless reviews, I've developed pretty thick skin, but I still worry when I post a new story and the first review comes through.

I always try to start and end with a positive on any reviews I give, and I'm always appreciative when someone does the same for me. Sometimes finding something good in a
story is difficult, but the effort we put into our work is always worth a positive mention. Keep up the good work!

Thank you!

I also remember the fear I had posting my first item. It took me over a month after I signed up to add it. I still hold my breath when I see a review in my mailbox, and my mouse hovers over that [Save] button for a few minutes whenever I add something new.

From GabriellaR45 :

This newsletter is really excellent. I think it's the best so far ! I hope you're as pleased with it as I was delighted to read it :) Thank you for doing such a splendid job, spelling out how tough it is to receive negative reviews. The example of sitting your child in a square is a perfect one.

I know you've inspired increased sensitivity with this editorial. Bravo !! Keep on writing such sensitive accessible essays on the topic of reviewing. You're boosting awareness. I feel sure your efforts will contribute to some much needed education and improvements :)

Warmest best, Gabriella

Well, shucks, you're making me *Blush* all over!

From Pen Name :

Dear Amarq,

Where have you been all my life? Kind and thoughtful reviewers such as yourself are worth their weight in gold. I do indeed feel like my items are my babies on public display. Reviews structured the way you suggest are helpful. If you ever want to raid my port, I would appreciate it.

One thing I would like to point out is that many people on this site do not take care in crafting their work. They don't bother to edit, and don't utilize the information on WDC to improve their work. Perhaps they are lazy or do not care. Some items are torture to read. I will be addressing this somewhat in the next RNL.


P.S. I hope you don't take offense at being lightheartedly compared to Paula Abdul!!!

I wasn’t offended at all, but found the comparison quite humorous! Thank you!

From PastVoices :

Excellent issue my dear! Of course I expected nothing less!!! I must say that my gift points to a reviewer are based on the time and effort I know that the reviewer took. Some reviewers have received as little as 50 gps for reviewing and some upwards of 500. No where states one has to do that, but I know it helps encourage reviewers much!!

Thank you! I so agree about the amount of GPs matching the quality of reviews. Though
I never expect them, receiving GPs for my reviews has done much to encourage me to
continue as well.
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Created: 03-19-09 @ 10:07pm | Modified: 03-19-09 @ 10:07pm      

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