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Education Reporter

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Write Tight, William Brohaugh, ISI Books, 2002, 180 pps., $14.95

As the title of his book suggests, former Writer's Digest editor William Brohaugh zeros in on wordiness as the primary enemy of good writing. He notes that "writing tight" has little to do with today's fast-paced world and shortened attention spans, and much to do with the fact that "precision and concision" are "crucial to the impact" of a manuscript.

In Chapter 2, Brohaugh outlines the 16 types of wordiness and shows readers how to tackle them. He addresses the problem of redundancy, then goes on to examine 15 other sources of "weed words," including affectations, roundabout writing, "inflated" and "deflated" language, the imprecise, the nonsensical, and many other sources of writing "flab."

Brohaugh discusses "Prewriting Tight" in Chapter 3, comparing the writing of a first draft to pre-soaking laundry. "Don't stain the prose in the first place," he warns. "Editing your writing for concision is so much easier if you keep the wordiness to a minimum even at the first-draft stage."

The book also offers tips on how to use elements such as sidebars, subheads, and checklists to sharpen prose and improve readability. The author acknowledges that writing can sometimes be tightened too much, and advises writers when and how to "loosen up" in order to improve clarity and flow.

As a bonus, Brohaugh provides an Appendix with hundreds of redundancies to avoid, such as "advance reservation," "close proximity," "blended together," and "basic fundamental principle."

Hailed as "one of the best books on writing ever written," Writing Tight should replace most undergraduate college writing courses, according to Dr. Stanley K. Ridgley, vice president and executive director of the Collegiate Network.

Ridgley writes in the foreword that "college writing courses don't teach college students how to write." He notes that this is because graduate students often teach the courses, and "don't really know how to write convincingly, clearly, succinctly." Ridgley adds: "the affliction of postmodernism has reduced many of our university writing programs to a waste of time at best and to crude propaganda sessions at worst."

For college students and everyone else who would like to learn to write well, Write Tight is the right prescription.

Call ISI Books in Wilmington, DE, at 800/621-2736, or visit www.isi.org.

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