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The Book on Writing: The Ultimate Guide to Writing Well

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  371 ratings  ·  36 reviews
Teaches the elements of good writing through the use of essential guidelines, literary techniques, and proper writing mechanics.
Paperback, 240 pages
Published September 1st 2003 by Marion Street Press, LLC
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Average rating 4.03  · 
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The Book on Writing was recommended in an editing group I belong to. With many good tips and numerous examples, I’m glad I picked it up.

LaRocque breaks down the book into three sections.

Part one talks about writing mechanics and provides guidelines for good writing. It looks at sentence structure, word selection, and active versus passive voice.

Part two is how to write the story well. This section contains information on how speed bumps can disrupt the flow of the story; how you don’t want to
Adam Wiggins
Nov 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: writing
I view The Book on Writing as the third member of the holy trinity consisting of On Writing Well and The Elements of Style (aka Strunk & White). Like these other two exalted texts, The Book on Writing is an advertisement for its own advice. The 233 pages flew by, despite what is arguably very dry subject matter.

A grab bag of my favorite points:

- Clarity is everything. Almost every aspect of good writing is built on the foundation of conveying your point clearly.

- Sentences should be less than 20
Addy S.
Nov 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Paula LaRoque is a brilliant lady. Her insight and skills and guidance on writing well have helped me a lot! While some of her advice was unhelpful to me at times, it didn’t take away from the purpose of the book. Mrs. LaRoque, you are a lifesaver.

*rated 4 stars for some inappropriate sentences used as examples, and for times the guidance wasn’t very helpful/useful
Mar 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: writing
This book has a lot of useful writing suggestions. Is it the ultimate book? No, that's more of a marketing thing. But I will say it inspired me to write more and with greater quality. I think everyone should take pride in their daily lives; knowing how to convey verbal information clearly is important. It's pretty easy to see how writing well is useful.

The last few chapters on grammar were a little dry, true. However, all the other chapters were lively and engaging. The advice given was accompan
Another writing book. Thought I was going to read a third one, but I'll stop for now. I'm reading these mainly for the fact I have writer's block. These books might help my grammar: my weakness. I found this one easier to read than Elements of Style. It doesn't read like a textbook and it has more wit. They are both equally as good and helpful. ...more
Feb 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
I've read Paula's book several times now. There is not much to it, just 12 guidelines to writing well and lots of examples. I love some of Paula's legal or political examples of bad writing. I really wish we could hire about 10,000 Paula LoRocque's to start going through our ridiculously wordy, incomprehensibly obtuse legal system and translating our laws into clear, understandable English. The Constitution and its amendments meet that standard, but I've seen precious few other examples. LaRocqu ...more
Rajiv Chopra
Apr 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderful book. It is an enjoyable book.

This is also a difficult review to write because I am trying to imbibe and implement many of the lessons that she has given us in this book!

Its also an enjoyable book because of Paula's own writing style, which is straight and direct. There are no hidden tunnels that you need to find your way through, to get to the message.

She lays out the principles and then gives examples of both, good and bad, writing. This makes the book easy to read and f
Kamryn Koble
Dec 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
This piece of nonfiction inspired me to rethink the writing of my essays and emails, let alone my fiction. All in all a solid piece that I will continue to reference as I compose any sort of work. This is good to have on hand for any fiction or academic writer looking to delve further than what English class teaches you about the actual craft of writing.
Dec 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
An interesting but pretty academic look at grammar. I had some instruction on the use of subjective and objective pronouns from my extremely clever friend and ex-colleague, which made me realise that I was a little bit fuzzy on some of the rules. In my defence, she's a linguist and deals with grammar every day.

It also explains why Grammarly keeps telling me off for my use of the Oxford comma in their weekly roundup emails. Which is not incorrect, and is impacting my accuracy score. It's written
Rajat Narula
Feb 04, 2018 rated it liked it
A much recommended book on Amazon. The first part of the book is quite basic. Use simple words, vary the length of sentences and the like. The momentum picks up in the 2nd part where there is some insightful advice on building character, building tension, and the perennial: showing vs. telling. There is nothing new about the advice but the examples bring it to life. I enjoyed the Part 3 -> handbook on correct use of the language – there were plenty of surprises there.
Sir Ehssan
Dec 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Yes, go ahead reading this book!
Why? Because it has a holistic point of view. Both technical and theoretical aspects of writing are explained. It's also easy to read, well written for our comfort. Within 2 days, I read it, took notes and didn't skip anything.

LaRocque filled an empty space in "How to Write" Manuals.
I found it similar to Zinsser's on Writing Well, a bit richer and covering more material.
Maria Chow
Jan 29, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Great book about cutting the fluff, avoiding jargon, and omitting needless words. Fave quote -- "How does "he left his car and ran" become "the perpetrator exited his vehicle and fled on foot"? How does a banana become an "elongated yellow fruit"? ...more
Corey D Harrill
Apr 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Writing well is an asset that shouldn’t be overlooked. Reading material is dry but beneficial.
August Busch
Sep 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reference
Good book. It had a lot of interesting tips.
Gabe Waggoner
Nov 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
LaRocque's book tickled me throughout. When I read it, I had just finished graduate school in journalism in 2001, and it has held a place on my quick-reference bookshelf ever since.

Among other gems: She's a journalist who advocates for the serial comma. On seeing that, I made a joyful noise and knew that she had captured my heart forever. Long live LaRocque!
Trish Izzo
Aug 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5-star, nonfiction
I am so glad that I had the opportunity to read this book, and I only wish I had read it before starting college – it would have made things go much more smoothly, I’m sure!

Part 1: A Dozen Guidelines to Good Writing
I learned so much from just the first twelve chapters that I stopped reading for a while and started going through my blog posts to see where I could make them more readable and concise. My favorite passage in this section comes from chapter 2, which is entitled “Avoid Pretensions, Go
May 09, 2010 rated it really liked it
The reason for me to read this book was to improve my writing style. Pretty obvious, right? I read quite a lot and am often impressed by how sophisticated people can express themselves. I have to admit, I don't always find these texts, books etc. easy to read and understand, at least not all of them, but I was impressed nonetheless. I believed that I lacked the vocabulary and understanding of the English language because I am not a native speaker. Sometimes this may be right, but I learned that ...more
Dona McCormack
Jan 18, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Instagram Review:

This book is, close as I can pin, a book for contemporary popular fiction and nonfiction writers. I struggled a bit with the organization of this book. I disagreed at times, however, with chapters that still yielded up some wonderful nuggets of advice.

For example, I am not a fan of the advice to always replace large words with small words. I suggest taking this advice only if you're using a big word because it's big. If you're using a word becaus
Aug 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Move over Elements of Style, because Paula LaRocque has your number. This is as useful, and in some ways more so, than that classic. This may in fact be the book on writing. Its first 100 pages are as clear and concise a review of essential writing mechanics as I've ever read -- and such a good reminder that they belong on the "read every year" list for anyone wanting to keep their writing sharp. The second hundred pages tie together in their own succinct and lively way an array of insights into ...more
Michael Parker
Aug 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The first section on writing mechanics contains essential advice for every writer. Much of its content overlaps with the book "Writing Tools." I'm not writing fiction, and so I only skimmed the second section on storytelling devices. The third section, enigmatically titled "A Handbook," tackles myths, relics, and vestiges of writing like never splitting infinitives or ending a sentence with a preposition. This was welcome, as Elements of Style dispenses some antiquated advice. But it felt out of ...more
Jan 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
Being the first book of its kind I've ever read, I guess I don't have much to compare it with. But nonetheless, it seems like the author really knows what she's talking about. Just reading the book will not make you a good writer, of course, but she does give some valuable tips and guidelines about writing in general. I would've liked if she wrote a little more about how to write fiction, but that's just me:) ...more
Jun 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This was a very motivating and thought provoking book. It gave me an interesting perspective on myself and my ability to create and write. I took my time and really thought about the message of resistance. I now know the enemy and what I must do to overcome it so that I can be more productive. I am very touched by the last chapter in the book. Create what you are meant to create don't let others and yourself lose out on what you were meant to do. I highly recommend this book. ...more
Jaroslav Tuček
Jan 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
I really like The Book on Writing. It's very informative and thorough - covering topics of relevance both to fiction and non-fiction writers - yet manages to make enjoyable what otherwise might have been a dry read.

The book's two main parts focus on writing mechanics and storytelling devices. They are both quite helpful and the excerpts used by the author to illustrate her points generally excellent.
Feb 14, 2014 rated it liked it
I never finished this book, but I guess that's okay. I read enough...
This book has good advice, but maybe a little too detailed and boring for me. It seems like a lot of things are repeated, and the chapters kind of seem like they are in the wrong order.
There's good advice, but there's also lengthy discussions about other's writing, and it drags on and on, with very little solid advice.
Richard Givan
Dec 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is a fine book on the art and craft of writing, both fiction and nonfiction. While not a topic of mass appeal, the subject is dear of some of us, and this work stands out as a shining guide. I am suddenly self-conscious about writing this review, worrying about introducing sentences with long subordinate clauses and other weak affections, so I'm quitting now, while I'm not too far behind. ...more
Cecily Robertson
Dec 10, 2009 rated it liked it
I read this for my Media Writing class as well. LaRoque's tips are very helpful, and they're not the sort of writing tips you hear everywhere. Simply the way she writes the book makes it easy to learn from her. ...more
Stanley Hall
May 28, 2010 is currently reading it
I wish I could write like this book is teaching. An entertaining book with more insights. If you have to or want to write, and want to do it well then check out this book.
Eclectic Reader
Nov 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: writing
This is an easy-to-read book crammed full with helpful advice. While it's slanted toward business writers, or journalist, as a novelist, I found the information to be helpful to my trade, too. ...more
Dec 27, 2012 rated it liked it
Ambivalent. Simple principles with lots of explanation. I read most of it and skimmed the rest.
Mar 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Very helpful in my formal proposal writing skills. Never be satisfied in your abilities... reminders, techniques and new information is always helpful
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Paula is an editor, communications consultant, and author of nonfiction who has recently turned her attention to writing fiction. Her first novel, a mystery titled “Chalk Line,” will be published by Marion Street Press, Inc., in 2011.

Often hailed as one of America’s foremost writing coaches, Paula has conducted writing workshops for hundreds of media, government, academic, and business groups acro

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