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Keys to Great Writing

by Stephen Wilbers


Many books on writing provide commentary on what is wrong with today’s writing without offering specific instruction on how to make it right. Keys to Great Writing presents five elements of style (economy, precision, action, music, and personality), five elements of composition (purpose, point of view, organization, support, and coherence), an approach to drafting and revising, a brief glossary of grammatical terms, a checklist for writing with style, a checklist for proofreading, and a list of writing resources. Its numerous examples from literature, on-the-job writers, and students demonstrate why these techniques work and illustrate how you can use them in your own writing. 


Intended for writers of every type — from on-the-job writers to creative writers — and at every level of development — from beginning to advanced — this book will teach you how to develop a distinctive style that conveys your unique voice and personality.


Now available in paperback!

Order copies from amazon.com.

Book reviews


“Make every word count”

Exercises applying 14 techniques presented in Chapter 1: “Economy”


Keys to Great Writing

Empower your writing! Keys to Great Writing covers every aspect of the craft, showing you how to develop a writer's voice that is unique, precise and effective.

From grammar to revision strategies, you'll find the crucial information you need in short, easy-to-browse sections that enable you to hone your own signature writing approach. No more wading through dry style manuals. No more guesswork. Just clear, proven guidance, including:

Four Myths of Great Writing

The Elements of Style Checklist

The Elements of Composition Checklist

The Four-Step Writing Process

Glossary of Grammatical Terms

Proofreading Checklist

Four Common Errors in Word Choice

     (and How to Avoid Them)

Five Ways to Bring Music to Your Writing

Fourteen Techniques to Eliminate Wordiness

And much more!

Keys to Great Writing is like having your own desktop writing coach. Use it, learn from it, and give voice to the great writer within you.

About the Author

Stephen Wilbers is a writing consultant, syndicated columnist, and award-winning author. He teaches at the University of Minnesota and in 1995 he won an Outstanding Faculty Award for his teaching at Hamline Univesity. Since December 1991, he has written a weekly column on effective writing, which appears in the Minneapolis Star Tribune and other newspapers. He has published two collections of his columns, Writing for Business (winner of a 1994 Minnesota Book Award) and Writing by Wilbers. For his Ph.D. dissertation he wrote a history of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, which was published by the University of Iowa Press.

Steve was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. he earned his B.A. at Vanderbilt University, and his M.A. and Ph.D. at the University of Iowa. He spent his junior year abroad in Aix-en-Provence, where he fell in love with the French language and the Cours Mirabeau. As a 1985 Visiting Fulbright Fellow at the University of Essex, he lived for five months in Wivenhoe, England, accompanied by his wife, Debbie, and two young children, Eddy and Kate. He and his wife now live in Minneapolis, which affords him easy access to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness of northern Minnesota, where he and his father — along with various family members and friends — have taken annual canoe trips for the past twenty-two years. At the University of Minnesota, he directed one of the largest student academic support services operations in the country before serving as Associate Director of the Program in Creative and Professional Writing. Since 1990, he has worked full time as a student and teacher of writing.

Table of Contents



Part One: Keys to Great Writing
Chapter 1: Economy
Chapter 2: Precision
Chapter 3: Action
Chapter 4: Music
Chapter 5: Personality

Part Two: Elements of Composition
Chapter 6: Purpose
Chapter 7: Point of View
Chapter 8: Organization
Chapter 9: Support
Chapter 10: Coherence

Part Three: Drafting and Revising
Chapter 11: The Writing Process

Appendix I: A Glossary of Grammatical Terms
Appendix II: Checklist: Keys to Great Writing
Appendix III: Checklist: Elements of Composition
Appendix IV: Checklist for Proofreading
Appendix V: Recommended Resources and Reading





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