A Book Review: How to Write Well, by Michael D. Stover

Book Review How to Write Well

Do you know what I like about reviewing a How-To book? You don’t have to worry about inadvertently giving away the ending because the reader creates the real ending. The success they enjoy from the knowledge they seize by employing the teachings of the author is the real “Happily ever after.”

Michael produced a tool for writers and editors that I for one will keep on my desk as a handy reference when I am editing what I wrote. Make no mistake, anyone can write well. The real secret is to put your fingers to the keyboard and don’t stop until you have told the story. There is always time to edit later, and Michael’s book will help you do that. My favorite quote from the book is, “Write fearlessly; edit ruthlessly.” Although Kevin Powers receives extensive credit for this concept, I’m sure you have seen it many times, and it bears repeating repeatedly.

I particularly liked the chapter, “Major Wording Blunders.” He begins the chapter with a Bible verse from Proverbs 25:11, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.” (KJV) Then, notes that “a word misused is like a train wreck running backward, or the splotched picture of a blocked satellite transmission.” He goes on to give us ten examples, like “irregardless, supposably, and heighth,” and my personal favorite, “all intensive purposes.”

“Grammar Nazis,” what they call people like us on Facebook, will love his chapter on “Flagrant Grammar Mistakes.” Perhaps, if some of those posting on Facebook would read his book, we wouldn’t have to correct their use of loose for lose, or it’s for its. But, there, their, they’re now, it’s all good!

I would encourage everyone, particularly writers, proofreaders, and editors to read this book and keep it as a handy reference on your desktop. As a journalism student and as a journalist, I have read several How-To books about writing, but this is a keeper that ranks right up there with The Little, Brown Handbook and Stephen King’s On Writing. It is a tool I will use often.

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2 Replies to “A Book Review: How to Write Well, by Michael D. Stover”

  1. Stephen, I very much appreciate your kind and thoughtful review of my book, How toWrite Well. I found your explanations honest and encouraging, and your comparisons to notable writing works to be flattering, indeed. Thank you for a great review.

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