Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Getting the Words Right: How to Rewrite, Edit, and Revise” as Want to Read:
Getting the Words Right: How to Rewrite, Edit, and Revise
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Getting the Words Right: How to Rewrite, Edit, and Revise

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  289 Ratings  ·  33 Reviews
A clear, highly readable handbook showing how to improve every piece of writing, whether fiction or nonfiction.
Published August 1st 1990 by Writer's Digest Books (first published January 1st 1983)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Getting the Words Right, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Getting the Words Right

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Neal Dench
Nov 15, 2011 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.
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.
Andie Long
An editing book that needed editing. Good but too wordy.
Mar 14, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jul 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent tome on how to revise a book. Logically presented, useful examples, a good reference book for a writer.
Dec 17, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 sho ...more
Nov 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 wr ...more
Lee Sinclair
Mar 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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.
Dec 22, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it really liked it
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.
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.
Oct 18, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Dyah Rinni
Oct 24, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Judy Dawn
Mar 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A perfect resource for writers.
Aug 31, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Useful, practical guide to improving your writing
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.
Not my favorite writing resource, but great if you are having trouble cleaning up a manuscript with too many irrelevant words!
Dec 31, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think Theodore's advice is solid, but he kinda comes across as a tool.
Jan 31, 2010 rated it really liked it
Very useful book. Can be used for reference when you encounter writing problems.
Rick Hogaboam
Jan 13, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great for editing help.
May 28, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
For a book about "getting the words right" and improving your writing in revisions, this isn't a terribly engaging read.
Dec 24, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-kindle
Great reference
Highlights moved to Evernote
Judith Ann Kohnen
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 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book was sluggish to get through. I also found the layout (decorative leaf patterns which randomly indenting text) distracting and confusing.
Jun 05, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sandra Almazan
Jan 09, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A useful handbook on revision for writers, with plenty of examples and tips to help you make your writing more effective.
Anthony St. Clair
rated it really liked it
May 12, 2014
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • How to Be a Writer: Building Your Creative Skills Through Practice and Play
  • Story Structure Architect: A Writer's Guide to Building Dramatic Situations and Compelling Characters
  • The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing: Everything You Need to Know to Write, Publish, Promote and Sell Your Own Book
  • The Complete Handbook Of Novel Writing: Everything You Need To Know About Creating & Selling Your Work (Writers Digest)
  • Write That Book Already!: The Tough Love You Need to Get Published Now
  • Hooked: Write Fiction That Grabs Readers at Page One & Never Lets Them Go
  • The Portable MFA in Creative Writing
  • First Draft in 30 Days: A Novel Writer's System for Building a Complete and Cohesive Manuscript
  • The Productive Writer: Tips & Tools to Help You Write More, Stress Less & Create Success
  • Manuscript Makeover: Revision Techniques No Fiction Writer Can Afford to Ignore
  • Robert's Rules of Writing
  • Description & Setting
  • Scene and Structure (Elements of Fiction Writing)
  • Bullies, Bastards & Bitches: How to Write the Bad Guys of Fiction
  • Break Into Fiction: 11 Steps to Building a Story that Sells
  • The Writer's Idea Book
  • Plot Versus Character: A Balanced Approach to Writing Great Fiction
  • Grammatically Correct

Share This Book