Do I Make Myself Clear?
Why Writing Well MattersBook - 2017
"This wise and entertaining guide by one of the great editors of our time offers timeless tools for making meaning clear. Refresh your writing. Unravel convoluted sales talk written to deceive. See through political campaigns erected on a tower of falsehoods. Fake news is but one of the pimples of a literate civilization under siege. Slovenly English! Billions of words come at us every day with unimaginable velocity and shriveled meaning, in social media posts, bloated marketing, incomprehensible contracts, and political language 'designed to make lies sound truthful.' Orwell, of course. The digital era he never glimpsed has had unfortunate effects on understanding. Ugly words and phrases are picked up by the unwary and passed on like a virus. Cryptic assertion supplants explanation and reasoned argument. Muddle and contradiction suffocate meaning. You will write better--and have fun--with the original approaches of an editor experienced in ridding prose of corrupting predators: learn to recognize the infiltrators, the flesh-eaters. and the zombies. But watch, too, as Harry Evans identifies the magic potions mixed by the best of prose writers. He has spent his life clarifying complexities, from the tragic poisoning of thalidomide babies to the urgent files from battlefield reporters and his political histories. Make yourself clear with a trustworthy editor at your side."--Jacket.
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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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