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Getting the Words Right

4.03  ·  Rating Details ·  276 Ratings  ·  32 Reviews
The Secret to Good Writing

When asked by the Paris Review what compelled him to rewrite the ending of A Farewell to Arms 39 times, Ernest Hemingway replied, "Getting the words right." His answer echoes what every successful writer knows: The secret to all good writing is revision.

For more than twenty years, Getting the Words Right has helped writers from all professions rew
Paperback, 256 pages
Published June 2nd 2005 by Writer's Digest Books (first published January 1st 1983)
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Neal Dench
Jan 02, 2014 Neal Dench rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pretty good, if somewhat overlong, book that gives you the basic rules for writing and revision to ensure that, whatever you're writing, you end up with the perfect message (principles which, I should add, I'm not using here!). Divided into 39 chapters, one for each "rule", Cheney argues quite effectively that the process splits into three basic principles, reduce, rearrange, and reword. This, of course, oversimplifies things horribly, but serves as a useful way of splitting up the book.

I felt t
I just could not finish this book. The first couple of chapters about editing were helpful, but the rest of it feels like it's written for middle schoolers who don't know how to put two words together... with about 100 times more words than is necessary to repeat his basic points over and over again. And he just keeps using examples from his own work only, which makes him seem pretty pompous, especially when the examples aren't that great.
Andie Long
Jan 02, 2014 Andie Long rated it it was ok
An editing book that needed editing. Good but too wordy.
Apr 03, 2013 Laini rated it really liked it
Shelves: writing-craft
Not a bad book as far as writing craft goes, but the BROWN typeface is brutal for those of us with less-than-stellar vision. It's actually painful for me to read.
Oct 18, 2016 iarXiv rated it really liked it
A detailed, fairly comprehensive and fairly original, exploration of ways to improve your writing. Contains many helpful before and after example sentences.

One of the few writing books that mentions the issue of transition between paragraphs and adjective placement for emphasise, amongst other things.

It's worth reading and keeping as a reference book.
Mar 21, 2014 Nick rated it really liked it
Theodore Cheney was a creative writing professor, and is an author of fiction and non-fiction. This book is all about the multifaceted process of revision, and is divided into three parts: reduce, rearrange, and reword. It discusses structure (from the level of sentence to story/novel), emphasis, word order, diction, rhythm, and usage. To illustrate techniques, almost every section contains writing samples from famous authors and workshop students alike. Behold as Cheney gets meta and blows your ...more
Carol Ryan
Jul 04, 2012 Carol Ryan rated it it was amazing
I was slogging my way through a novel when I downloaded Getting the Words Right by Theodore A. Rees Cheney. You might think the novel would have held my interest against capture by a book subtitled: 39 ways to improve your writing. But, you’d be wrong. Even though the novel was written by a prize winning author and had a compelling plot and characters, the style was awful. It was as though I was riding a bike uphill into a headwind. Cheney’s book was like coasting downhill. His book not only ...more
Feb 03, 2015 Brandi rated it it was amazing
I like the premise behind Theodore Cheney's "Getting the Right Words". I have come across many writings that could benefit from some of the advice given in the book. One of the books I am reading now is bad for redundancy. A typical sentence might be "John put his eggs in one crate. One John slipped, the crate of John's eggs fell all over John's floor and John's eggs were everywhere." This can be a bit irritating, especially since it would be a really good book if it wasn't for the redundant ...more
Lee Sinclair
An incredibly helpful book for revising and editing your book. There's so much information in it. I especially like his large-to-small approach--making major revisions first, then intermediate ones, and finally micro-changes. It also works well as a reference book, if you only need help with a specific problem.
Jan 27, 2015 Lashawn rated it liked it
Shelves: unfinished
Gonna call it quits with this one for now. I like it because it helps kickstart you into paying attention in how you do your writing process. I don't know if this is something to be read straight through. I'm comfortable with picking it up and thumbing through it when I need a quick boost to craft.
Jul 23, 2013 Jeff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was very helpful in explaining all the various ins and outs of following up on a writers initial draft. It was, however, a bit verbose for my liking; if you are looking for a low amount of detail, this might not be the book for you. But if you want to get deep into the art of editing, etc, then give it a try.
Sep 06, 2010 Sieran rated it it was amazing
Wow. Rarely have I read such an ORGANIZED book! I love how logically ordered each section is, and how smoothly they lead to each next part.

Although I love the entire book with all its little insights and illuminating examples, my favorite topics were:

--rhythm and sound

Highly recommended to anyone motivated to strengthen their writing.
Su Halfwerk
Getting the Words Right is the perfect example of how we take things for granted, like breathing.
Reading this book was a reminder of the basics of communication: Using the best and clearest methods/tools to get the point across.
This is definitely a keeper, one I plan to refer to frequently. The only issue I had was that for some points there were many examples (too many) and none for others.
Dyah Rinni
Oct 24, 2008 Dyah Rinni rated it really liked it
Buku yang bagus banget buat belajar editing, maupun yang udah jadi editor. Banyak pelajaran simple tentang editing yang terkadang kita lupakan, padahal penting untuk diterapkan. Tips2 yang diajarkan juga praktis. Nggak bertele-tele.
Jun 01, 2011 Monika rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Aspiring writers
Shelves: writing-related
This is a great book for learning how to edit your writing. I use it to prepare for teaching editing. The only thing I don't like about it is the way it's printed -- in brown and in small type. It makes it harder to read.
This book has sound recommendations and is full of examples. Nothing new here and a bit tedious to read, but it will be useful as a reference.
Sep 05, 2012 Melissa rated it it was ok
Not my favorite writing resource, but great if you are having trouble cleaning up a manuscript with too many irrelevant words!
Jun 10, 2012 Catherine rated it did not like it
For a book about "getting the words right" and improving your writing in revisions, this isn't a terribly engaging read.
Judith Kohnen
May 21, 2014 Judith Kohnen rated it it was amazing
This is a real treasure of a book, one I keep going back to over and over again. It covers the three fundamentals of revision (reducing, rearranging, and rewording). I highly recommend it.
Sarah Ann
Oct 18, 2013 Sarah Ann rated it did not like it
This book was sluggish to get through. I also found the layout (decorative leaf patterns which randomly indenting text) distracting and confusing.
Sandra Almazan
Jan 25, 2012 Sandra Almazan rated it really liked it
A useful handbook on revision for writers, with plenty of examples and tips to help you make your writing more effective.
Anthony St. Clair
Anthony St. Clair rated it really liked it
May 12, 2014
Eddie rated it it was ok
Oct 05, 2008
Stephanie Claypool
Stephanie Claypool rated it it was amazing
Feb 24, 2012
Marc Royston
Marc Royston rated it it was amazing
Oct 13, 2015
Tarek Ali
Tarek Ali rated it it was amazing
Jun 14, 2014
Marilou Goodwin
Marilou Goodwin rated it it was ok
Nov 15, 2012
Amber Polo
Amber Polo rated it liked it
Jul 22, 2012
Val Crowley
Val Crowley rated it it was amazing
Mar 18, 2014
Darlene rated it really liked it
Oct 29, 2016
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