Review: How Writing Works, Roslyn Petelin

December 14, 2016 Reviews 0 ★★★★

Review: How Writing Works, Roslyn PetelinHow Writing Works: A Field Guide to Effective Writing by Roslyn Petelin
Published by Allen & Unwin on November 1st 2016
Genres: Non Fiction
Pages: 336
Source: Publisher
Amazon • Amazon UK • Book Depository • Bookworld

This is Roslyn Petelin's promise: whether you already write reasonably well or not, her book will exponentially improve your writing. It helps you to use the right words in the right order in the right places at the right time for the right reasons and the right readers.

Distilling her 30 years of experience in teaching writing, this book is a practical introduction to the elements of grammar, syntax and style you need to write well. She covers social media and writing for online publication, and also digital document management. How Writing Works should be on the desk of everyone who needs to write: students, professionals in all fields, and creative writers.

The ability to write well is valued in just about every industry these days. Clear communication is especially important in our online society where more and more communication is textual rather than face to face.

How Writing Works can help you to improve not only the technical aspects of your writing, but also help to construct documents in a way that best communicates your message.

Do you know your phrasal verbs from your verbal phrases? This book can help with that, but it can also help you to learn the correct placement of a semicolon. The first few chapters deal with the mechanics of writing, including sentence structures, punctuation and tone. Later chapters discuss structuring, editing and writing for professional documents, both printed and online. Document types include media releases, manuals, academic writing, plus perhaps some of the most important documents most people write: job applications and résumés. Exercises at the end of each chapter help to test your knowledge as you go.

There are plenty of books around about current use (or usually, the misuse) of English grammar. Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss has been a bestseller since its release in 2003, and among others I’ve run into is the hilarious and irreverent Missed Periods and Other Grammar Scares by Jenny Baranik. They poke fun at the complexity and pedantry of English language, but aren’t particularly useful when readers are looking for specific help with their writing.

How Writing Works deals with the more technical aspects of writing, while still managing to engage with witty examples and quotes from other respected writers. You are likely to keep this book on your desk, and use it often.

Roslyn Petelin is one of the co-ordinators in the Writing, Editing and Publishing program at the University of Queensland, in which I am currently enrolled. So yes, Ros is one of my lecturers and no, I am not writing this review for extra credit! I can tell you, however, that Ros knows what she’s talking about. She also facilitates the Uni of Queensland’s Edx English Grammar and Style online course, which runs over eight weeks and is free to enrol.

While technical discussion of writing can be a dry topic, I found How Writing Works to be an easy and accessible read.

Futher information

Now available from Allen & Unwin, RRP $39.99

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