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The Little Red Writing Book

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  374 ratings  ·  56 reviews
For Writers from All Walks of Life!

There's no need to fear the big, bad world of writing with The Little Red Writing Book in hand. Brimming with clever advice, this book offers writers, students, and business professionals a concise guide to penning strong and effective work for all occasions.

The Little Red Writing Book is designed for visual appeal and ease of use.
Paperback, 160 pages
Published July 6th 2007 by Writer's Digest Books (first published 2004)
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Average rating 3.75  · 
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Nov 02, 2010 rated it did not like it
Seems geared toward undergraduates learning to write expository papers. Nothing terribly enlightening, but some good reminders. I was fairly pleased with it until I got to Principle 11: Gain Active Power. The section begins with--and I promise I'm not making this up--the following sentence:

"In general, the active voice is preferred to the passive voice because the active voice is more action oriented."

I wanted very much to believe this was an attempt at a joke, but the book is so serious in
Excellent little book full information on structure, style, readability and grammar. Easy to read, full of examples for both "correct" and "incorrect" and a little humor.

The section on structure pertains to writing from the "top down." In other words, tell the reader what your point is FIRST, then explain. Also, how to break things down, use transition words, stick to one topic.

The section on style covers a wide array of topics: support what you say, personalize examples, keep it simple, no
J.K. Riki
Jul 15, 2015 rated it it was ok
Here is an example of my grievance with this book:

In the chapter on nominalization, the reader is asked to alter the sentence "The inability to make decisions is a military leader's darkest enemy."

The recommended solution is "A military leader must be able to decide."

While this change may be a valid example of the lesson at hand, the second version is a tedious mess. What reader would prefer it? Even technical writing is made worse if the audience is bored, and this second option is frankly
Alexander Velasquez
Mar 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is helpful more so for academics and for the corporate world (i.e. formal audiences) than for creative writers. However, some principles of style, such as using specific and concrete words (principle 6) and favoring active sentences (principle 11), can be helpful for creative writing as well. Albeit, the section on grammar rules is indispensable for all writers. Royal has another book (viz. The Little Gold Grammar Book) that details those rules in more detail, and it may be more useful ...more
Aug 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Disclaimer: I am a writing and grammar nut, as well as an English teacher. That being said, I've read a lot of writing books that are much longer than this one and don't pack nearly the same powerful punch.

Short and sweet, this book covers the basic principles of good writing very effectively. It is something I could easily adapt to use with my students. In fact, I plan on covering a principle a week in conjunction with our established curriculum.
Dec 27, 2007 rated it liked it
Concise. Cute. Almost too cute. Short, accessible chapters and good exercises to illustrate points. I disagree with some of this book's assertions about what good writing is, but overall, it's a nice little grammar and style guide.
M. J.
Mar 23, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-non-fiction
Before I was halfway through it I was thinking that the cleverest thing about "The Little Red Writing Book" was its title. That's sad.

It's also unfair.

After all, I've read a lot of books and articles and web pages whose authors could benefit greatly from some of what is in this compact collection of how to write. From stylistic construction to rules of grammar, Royal covers many areas where aspiring writers shouldn't but do have problems.

There were a couple places where I disagreed, and there
Evan M
Mar 29, 2019 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Students, Amateur Nonfiction Writers
Shelves: writing
"This may seem like an exception...and it is, but it represents the art of writing as opposed to the science of writing" says Royal, relegating writing's experimental nature into the footnotes. Creating a pun based on a beloved fairy-tale tells the reader that this book will be educational but won't take itself so seriously. This was the wrong assumption to make. Royal is engrossed in his own pretentiousness, not teaching, but telling the reader how to write without showing any love for the ...more
Sean Goh
Jan 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: pers-dev
Expressing yourself well in writing CAN actually be boiled down to a few principles, some of which I have recorded for reference below. The entire book itself is concise enough to serve as one such reference.

Strategically, the summary or conclusion should come at the start of the expository piece not at the end, so the reader is not left guessing at the writer's main idea. The reader is first told what the writing is about, before being given the supporting facts and details.

Vague language
Aug 27, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I picked up this book because it was cute and small, and I liked the cover and the title. There is even a picture of a wolf to drive home the idea. I learned most of these principles in high school. There are a few good reminders, but overall, I would not do the exercises. I prefer Strunk & White, or a more modern publication by Grammar Girl Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing, which has good mnemonic devices.

The content is basic. The illustrations of each chapter are charming. This
The Unwanted Book Club
Oct 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Wow just WOW. I was deceived by the size, and expected a fun and quippy little booklet for tips and hints on writing but...WOW. There's so much information packed into this thing I'll have to read it several times to soak in all the info it has. This is mostly attributed to expository writing, but a good portion of it can be used for fictional writers like myself. Not only does it cover composition, but grammar, punctuation- in short? I learned more about writing from this little book than my ...more
D.L. Pitchford
Oct 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
As far as the quality of the helpfulness of the book, 4 stars. It is concise, accurate, and easy to understand, and for that, many may find it useful.

However, this book is geared toward students, businesspeople, and the like, and few fiction, creative nonfiction, or poetry writers will benefit from its use.

If I were rating this on how helpful it was, it would be 1 or 2 stars because I got nothing out of this book. It's all stuff I already know well and don't need a refresher on.
Sep 01, 2019 rated it liked it
Edit: The grammar chapters are exactly what I needed. Aka the second half of the book. The provide a brief, but necessary crash course on proper grammar.

Great book to help beginner writers because it breaks down everything from structure to style of different types of writing with activities and basic examples. I think that this would be so useful for middle and high school writers.

Not exactly what I was looking for.
Oct 13, 2018 rated it it was ok
I found this book to be disappointing, if only because it's so general. If you haven't already learned this basic information from the craft itself - and from a simple English or business class in writing - then it is essential. Otherwise, skip it.
Aug 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a great refresher. I will create a quick writing guide consisting of the principles.
Feb 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, writing
Well written book about writing. I think I will eventually get it on my shelf as a reference and a reminder.
Steve Friedman
Mar 03, 2019 rated it liked it
It’s a bit of a yawner as far as gripping novels go. But as a writer’s reference book, it has handy tips and rules that every writer should know. It will stay on my desk for future use.
Jim Sestito
Oct 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
English class was a long time ago. This was an easy to understand writing refresher. Must read for any new writer without formal education.
Sarah Schantz
Dec 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
As a "Little Red Riding Hood" devotee, and as a writer and English teacher, I've wanted this book since I first knew it existed, and yet I forgot to buy it for myself when I first saw it, and then I almost forgot about it entirely (or rather, I shelved it somewhere in the back of my brain where the cobwebs grow and the dust bunnies reproduce). But then, as I was shopping for the holidays, I was delighted to find it on the shelf at my local favorite thrift store for just one dollar (and no, I ...more
Lisa Miller
Sep 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
I liked the design and overall look. Within its pages is info that a writer needs on hand.
Mar 21, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in improving their writing.
This is actually a pretty good reference book. I found it quick, easy to read. This is particularly good since I don't really dig reading how to write books, but this little 160 page book was a wonderful tool to remind me not only write, but how to write well and smoothly.(OK, so a wee bit more smoothly, I still need more practise.)

The front of the book declares that it has 20 powerful principles of structure, style, and readability. The author holds up to this promise, and adds a little more.
Jun 01, 2012 rated it liked it
The Little Red Writing Book is a good review of 20 basic writing principles with several exercises included to give the reader practice applying each of them. It would be a good resource for anyone teaching writing or wishing to brush up his or her writing skills. The main focus of this book is expository writing, though many of the same principles can also be applied to creative writing. I think it could be quite useful for students preparing for the essay portion of the SAT. Writing is a ...more
May 06, 2015 rated it it was ok
This book is for beginners of writing essays and book reports and the like. I didn't really find any of his insight helpful to improve my creative writing. But I would definitely give this book to youngsters who have an interest in writing in general. It will help to curve bad habits and give them a better understanding of what goes where in an essay. His layout is colorful and easy to follow and you breeze through the book without really getting bored of it, unlike when certain teachers are ...more
Mike Duron
This is a pretty simple and straightforward book that would be useful for a novice or part-time writer (such as somebody just trying to write a more formal communication for a corporate environment and isn't looking to be the next Tolstoy or Joyce). You'll even learn how to be 'politcally astute' in the section named "Keep Your Writing Gender Neutral." (The book calls it 'politically astute', but pretty much everyone else would write 'politically correct', of course.)

All in all, this book is
Oct 21, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: writing
I got this book in a writing kit that had some nifty plot dice and erasable note cards. I've heard great things about it and I can't say anything wrong. If you've never had a creative writing class, if you're just starting out, it would be great for you. It was all things I already know and use everyday. So if you're just starting out, grab it. If you need help writing a paper or refreshing your memory it could be really helpful.
Cindy Huskey
Jun 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
If only I'd found this book 4 years ago, I could've saved myself countless hours of creating handouts with the same types of exercises and examples of what NOT to do when writing. I could've just bought a class set of this book, and used it as our grammar/writing book. I know it's crazy to give five stars to a writing handbook, but the fairytale-esque quality of the chapter titles and illustrations add that little extra something that warrants an extra star.
Jan 08, 2013 rated it liked it
This book has some useful information in the basics of writing, but is not really appropriate for my AP or Junior classes. It is very formulaic (It highly recommends the 5 paragraph essay and even at one point allows for a "I am going to argue _________" formula for the thesis, which it refers to as a conclusion.) but I feel I could have used SOME of this book for my old Senior Lit and Tech class as it would be much more applicable to technical writing.
Lady Joyful
Apr 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Writers, Students
Shelves: writing, non-fiction
Whether you write fiction or non-fiction, for work or for fun, this book is full of handy little tips to improve your writing. The exercises are well-thought out and very helpful for practising the concepts, and the section at the end that gives an overview of the principles and rules will surely be useful for quick checks during writing. All-in-all a useful little book that I would certainly recommend to writers of any kind.
Andrew Knighton
Feb 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: on-writing
A useful, concise guide to techniques for structuring writing. There are enough exercises to give oyu some practice without bogging you down, but you could equally skip them and still learn a lot. Also contains an excellent section on grammar. This is one I'll keep reaching for when I want to sharpen up my writing.
Mar 27, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very concise book on some general rules of writing and grammar. Almost a primer for students of writing or a refresher for some of us that have forgotten so much since grade school and high school. This book is more for writing in general rather than creative writing; information that you might find in a 100 level college course or freshman English class.
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