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Keys to Great Writing

by Stephen Wilbers

“Review from a reader”

“Reviews posted on amazon.com”


Title: Keys To Great Writing
Author: Stephen Wilbers
Rating: Excellent
: Writers Digest Books
Reviewed by: Norman Goldman

Posted on www.bestreviews.com




A writer’s tool kit should include a good dictionary, a thesaurus, a style manual, and a copy of Stephen Wilbers excellent book, Keys to Great Writing.

Wilbers credentials are impressive. He is a former Fulbright scholar, syndicated columnist, adjunct professor and writing consultant, author of a few books on writing. In 1995, he won the Outstanding Faculty Award at Hamline University’s graduate studies program.

What are the keys to great writing? Wilbers informs us his students always want to know how to make their writing vivid and memorable. How can they set themselves apart from other writers? How can they convey their personalities, points of views and values? How do they learn to write with a distinct style? These are the principle themes of Wilbers’ book that walks us through in a way that the reader gets the impression that he is attending a comprehensive writer’s workshop.

The first part deals with five keys of how to write: economy of expression, precision, action, music and personality. The second part deals with five elements of composition that have more to do with the “what” of writing rather than the “how.” These are broken down into purpose, point of view, organization, support and coherence.

Although some of the material may be familiar from our school days, it is the author’s easy- to- understand approach that keeps the reader wanting to turn the pages and learn more. For example, learning the rules of English grammar was not exactly an exciting subject matter during our pre-college days. Did we ever relate grammar to music? Wilbers points out “the written word is only a representation of our spoken, natural language, which is based not on the letters of the alphabet but on sound expression, and the “sounding” of words that we do in our heads as we write and read is a poor substitute for actually speaking and hearing them.” When we speak we can sound happy, angry, worried or upset. If we learn how to use grammar and punctuation effectively, we can make our writing pleasing to the ear and convincing.

Novice as well as experienced writers will find this guide an excellent reference to be continuously consulted, particularly that the author has included in his appendix a step-by-step résumé of the keys. As Wilbers mentions in his introduction, “Learn the five keys to great writing. Understand the five elements of composition. Practice the techniques relating to both. Do these things, and you’ll be on your way.”



Review from a reader

I recently read your new book Keys to Great Writing.  In fact, I read it three times.  I’m now working my way through for a fourth time.  I love this book.  It has been a wonderful resource for me.

I found your book by chance in a local bookstore while looking for other references on writing.  As a technical writer for a biotechnology company in the San Francisco Bay area, I am always looking for ways to improve the clarity and content of my writing.  So I continue to study the craft of writing on my own. I always have a writing book on my nightstand; yours has been there for some time.  It’s the first thing I turn to every morning.

– Louis Wollenberger, Ph.D.


Reviews posted on amazon.com

***** A highly recommended course in one volume, February 16, 2001
Midwest Book Review from Oregon, WI USA
In Keys To Great Writing, Stephen Wilbers covers every aspect of the craft of writing and shows the aspiring author how to develop a writer's "voice" that is unique, precise, and effective with their readership. Wilbers covers every aspect of writing from grammar to revision strategies, offering clear, effective information. Of special value to the novice writer are his: Four Mythos 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; Five Ways To Bring Music to Your Writing; and Fourteen Techniques to Eliminate Wordiness. Keys To Great Writing is a complete and highly recommended course in one volume and a valuable reference guide enabling writers to stand out with a distinctive style and literary presence all their own.  


***** A MUST for everyone who wants to improve style, February 9, 2001
umist  from Hong Kong Hong Kong

The author provides instant techniques and clever examples such as the emphatic effect of having a short and snappy sentence after a long one. Like this. The "cleverest" book I have ever read.

***** Indispensible and User-Friendly, January 18, 2001
Reviewer: A reader from St. Paul, MN USA
Stephen Wilbers' Keys to Great Writing helped me get organized and get published. As you would expect if you have been a fan of his syndicated column, the book is full of clear, excellent advice. But the book gives us a greater sense of Wilbers' passion for great writing. His warmth and enthusiasm propel the reader from page to page, so that reading it literally felt like sailing through the material. If you are looking for inspiration and immediately useful techniques for improving your writing, this book is for you. (And by the way, it is true that I got my first important magazine article accepted soon after reading - and rereading - this book!)

***** Keys To Great Writing, January 2, 2001
Anne B. Jones  from Jonesboro, Ga.
A writing class in a book? That's what this is. Keys To Great Writing is as helpful as a first rate creative writing course, and well it should be. Award-winning writer Stephen Wilbers is an adjunct professor, writing consultant, author, and syndicated columnist. He knows and produces good writing. The book is a super resource for those who write for themselves, and a necessity for professionals.

***** Brilliant, for new and experienced writers, October 6, 2000
Craig Dale  from Sandpoint, ID USA
I read this book as part of a writing workshop. What immediately struck me was the clarity of his examples, and the clever way he used his own examples (good and bad) throughout his explanatory sections. So, pay attention when you read, and you'll see and feel exactly what he means. The book itself starts out with the "basics". But, rather than explain punctuation and what complex-compound sentences look like, the author puts everything in broader terms, explaining why great writers write they way they do. So, we learn about economy of words, the music of the language, how to raise interest with action, points of view, and the like. You will definitely learn mechanics and grammar, but in a way that will make it obvious why we have these rules. You'll also see why we sometimes break the rules. The second section goes further with organizing your work, and using supporting text to develop your scenes and characters. We see how to make everything believable. Finally, we spend some time looking at drafts, rewriting, and "the writing process." If you are a new writer, you will learn more here than you can grasp in one reading; if you are an experienced writer, the book will inspire you to hone your craft even further.

Order copies from amazon.com.




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