Effective communication is about more than word choice and the proper use of the comma. It starts with why. Why will someone care about what you have to say? How will it change their life, or at the very least, their day?
Try to articulate your “why” in one sentence whether you are writing a blog post on cloth diapering or a literary analysis on the short story, “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” and you will be far more effective than 75% of writers out there.
If you read one chapter a day of these books, I promise you will drastically improve your writing and your ability to communicate with your audience. Remember Thomas Edison said genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. Well, this is part of the dirty work that will eventually set you apart from your competition.
1. Writing with Style: Conversations on the Art of Writing by John Trimble
I have assigned this book every semester since I began teaching my freshmen composition students. Every semester students rave about how much this book helps give them the confidence they need to write. What I appreciate most about this book is the author’s willingness to break rules when necessary and his eagerness to serve his reader.
2. They Say, I Say: The Moves that Matter in Academic Writing by Graff and Birkenstein
There are two really great aspects of this book. The first is the main argument the authors put forth about writing. In order to join a conversation, you must articulate what others have said before you in order to put forth your own opinions.
The second really great part of this book is the pages and pages of templates included in the back. The authors tell you when and how to use them throughout the book, but they are all located in the back for easy reference. I require this text for the remedial college level course I teach, but I could easily adopt it for my freshmen, and I always recommend it.
3. Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing by Mignon Fogarty
Grammar Girl is fantastic, and if you don’t subscribe to her podcast, you should check it out. This book goes through various rules and is full of helpful tips to remember them. I still recommend you keep John Trimble in mind when learning rules, and feel free to break them when necessary and appropriate.
4. The Nuts and Bolts of College Writing by Michael Hervey
This is a compact and easy to understand text on writing. It will reteach the basics that you were taught in high school and again in college.
5. Eats, Shoots, and Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss
This book is hilarious, especially considering it’s all about punctuation. The author’s writing style is tongue-in-cheek-informative. If that writing style is new to you, it’s because I just made it up.
6. The Elements of Style by Strunk and White
If you have to pick just one, I’d vote for The Elements of Style. It’s the cheapest and the best bang for your buck. You can get it for only $2.99 on Kindle.
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