Do I Make Myself Clear?
Why Writing Well MattersBook - 2017
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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"Going well beyond the typical style guide's proscriptions against the passive voice, cliche, and so on, this polemic on writing takes the view that "the oppressive opaqueness" of much contemporary prose "is a moral issue." Contemptuous of politicians, C.E.O.s, and marketers who use "words not for communicating ideas but concealing them," Evans rewrites health-insurance policies, governmental reports on terrorism, and even Jan Austen, in order to demonstrate the virtues of concision and clarity. Human life is at stake, he claims. General Motors could have recalled vehicles with faulty ignition switches more quickly had managers not been "imprisoned" by a "lexicon of assurance," which favored convoluted euphemisms over precise statements about risks." - from "Briefly Noted", The New Yorker magazine, July 10 & 17, 2017, p. 84.
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