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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
The Art of Writing is a nonfiction self-help writing/publishing book by Peter Yang. While teachers continue to impress upon their students the importance of writing, Americans are increasingly uncomfortable with the written form of communication aside from texting and hurriedly sent emails. Yang acknowledges that becoming an effective and effortless writer is a challenging activity requiring practice and hard work, but the importance of that form of communication spills over into every aspect of life.
In The Art of Writing, Yang offers four principles that can help aspiring writers flourish. The first one is economy. Yang shows how verbosity can dilute the power of your writing, and he offers examples of wordy vs. honed-down sentences to illustrate the difference. He introduces the concept of the “crutch word” and shows how to avoid them; and he offers suggestions on how to spot and correct tautologies, qualifiers, transition words and other unnecessary words. His second principle is transparency. He cautions that a lack of preparation before beginning to write can mean the difference between a “lucid and explicit” text and a bland, unconvincing collection of sentences. Expressing your intentions clearly and succinctly, free of ambiguity, clichés and jargon results in powerful writing. The third cornerstone is variety. Many writers fall into the trap of using a few familiar sentence structures. Varying sentence and paragraph lengths can keep readers interested and involved. The last principle is harmony. Is your use of voice consistent? Is your presentation uniformly “elegant” with adherence to a consistent style? Does your style exhibit parallelism? Are your arguments unified and do they lead to your conclusion?
The Art of Writing is an essential desk reference for students and anyone who wants to effectively communicate through their writing -- and who doesn’t? I was fascinated by Yang’s introductory chapter and appreciated how he introduced his four principles. While I’ve studied grammar and try to keep abreast of literature on the subject, I found the author’s work a worthwhile refresher and will be applying much of what I learned from him in the future. The Art of Writing is most highly recommended.