A WRITER'S WIT
My Book World
Why Writing Well Matters. New York,
Little, Brown, 2017.
The field of English grammar can be a pedant’s paradise (or nightmare), what with Twitter and texting divining their own rules, and for over 400 pages noted wordsmith Evans sounds off about his favorite peeves. He also, if readers take away nothing else, reminds us that the passive voice (not tense) can bloat a sentence, whereas active voice (subject+verb+object) allows for clearer and briefer writing. Evans takes governmental babble and rewrites it so that one can understand it:
“Despite these opportunities and multiple intelligence products that noted the threat AQAP could pose to the Homeland, the different pieces of the puzzle were never brought together in this case[,] the dots were never connected, and, as a result steps to disrupt the plot involving Mr. Abdulmutallab were not taken prior to his boarding of the airplane with an explosive device and attempting to detonate it in-flight” (374). [passages written in passive voice appear in bold font]
“CT staff never connected the dots, so no one attempted to prevent Mr. Abdulmutallab boarding the plane with an explosive device” (375).
Overall, Mr. Evans provides a fine review for persons who write or wish to. He directs his writing to the journalist, who is attempting to reach as many readers as possible, but his “Ten Shortcuts to Making Yourself Clear” (Chapter Five) alone are worth the price of the book, and could assist all writers in making themselves clearer, regardless of the genre. Kudos to Evans.
NEXT TIME: New Yorker Fiction 2017