Do I Make Myself Clear?

Do I Make Myself Clear?

Why Writing Well Matters

Book - 2017
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Harry Evans has edited everything from the urgent files of battlefield reporters to the complex thought processes of Henry Kissinger. He's even been knighted for his services to journalism. In DO I MAKE MYSELF CLEAR?, he brings his indispensable insight to us all in his definite guide to writing well. The right words are oxygen to our ideas, but the digital era, with all of its TTYL, LMK, and WTF, has been cutting off that oxygen flow. The compulsion to be precise has vanished from our culture, and in writing of every kind we see a trend towards more--more speed and more information but far less clarity. Evans provides practical examples of how editing and rewriting can make for better communication, even in the digital age. DO I MAKE MYSELF CLEAR? is an essential text, and one that will provide every writer an editor at his shoulder.
"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.
Publisher: New York :, Little, Brown and Company,, 2017
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780316277174
Characteristics: vi, 408 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm


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Nov 12, 2017

There are better books to teach you how to write clearly. Evans, I think, is writing to an audience that believes his erudition is a plus, and finds interesting the excusions he uses for examples. It’s not that he gives bad advice, it’s that his advice so often is wrapped up in 1960s British leftwing political sentiments. What’s the point of that – except to alienate half his audience, which defeats the point of the book. Not recommended.


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Jul 13, 2017

"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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