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Writing with Style: Conversations on the Art of Writing

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A storehouse of practical writing tips, written in a lively, conversational style.


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A storehouse of practical writing tips, written in a lively, conversational style.

30 review for Writing with Style: Conversations on the Art of Writing

  1. 5 out of 5

    Mark Hiser

    I recommend this short book on writing. The author, John Trimble, wrote it as a quick-to-read "survival guide" for students. Trimble does not go into great detail nor does he examine the different modes of discourse. Rather, he discusses ways to think about non-fiction writing in general. For this reason, the book might be best suited for someone who has some writing experience. What I most like about this book is that Trimble focuses on thinking like a writer rather than on following set formula I recommend this short book on writing. The author, John Trimble, wrote it as a quick-to-read "survival guide" for students. Trimble does not go into great detail nor does he examine the different modes of discourse. Rather, he discusses ways to think about non-fiction writing in general. For this reason, the book might be best suited for someone who has some writing experience. What I most like about this book is that Trimble focuses on thinking like a writer rather than on following set formulas for writing. In fact, in the introduction, he makes the point that most glaring problems in a paper come from faulty thinking or from not asking the right questions while writing. In short chapters, the author discusses questions and problems the writer must confront in order to produce wriiting that holds atention while communicating something worth saying. He also walks the reader through parts of sample essays and discusses how the writer may have made the decisions he/ she made, and how he / she may have confronted various challenges. Finally, Trimble also places an emphasis on composing concise, clear, interesting prose. He repeatedly reminds us that the reader is under no obligation to read what the writer produced. Just as we turn off the television show that does not grab our attention and hold it, we also put down writing that bores, seems incompetent or lazy, or that reads as though a committee composed the work. Though this is a short book, one that can be read easily in three or four sittings, it is one that reminds us that writing is a form of communication rather than a formula in which someone simply fills in the variables. It reminds us that there is a reader we must take into account. And, most of all, it reminds us that successful writing takes careful thinking.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Ryan Trimble

    Having read a handful of books on writing, this is my favorite. Trimble's style is so engaging and enjoyable and witty. He simultaneously explains stylistic concepts while demonstrating them. Non-writers would even enjoy this book; it's that well-written. Having read a handful of books on writing, this is my favorite. Trimble's style is so engaging and enjoyable and witty. He simultaneously explains stylistic concepts while demonstrating them. Non-writers would even enjoy this book; it's that well-written.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jana Light

    One of the best writing guides. I skimmed a lot of the later chapters (lots of instructions for how to use punctuation and such that I just don't need), but I got some great nuggets out of the first couple chapters. Highly recommend even to experienced writers. One of the best writing guides. I skimmed a lot of the later chapters (lots of instructions for how to use punctuation and such that I just don't need), but I got some great nuggets out of the first couple chapters. Highly recommend even to experienced writers.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Zu

    Simply the best: for anyone who wants to challenge their creativity and to learn the pleasure of this hard work--writing. If you only have time to read one and only one book on writing, choose this one. You will not regret it. Besides, it's really short: less than 200 pages. On top of everything, it is amazingly readable--a paragon of non-textbook. No wonder the third edition is already out. This book changed my view about composition courses; it convinced me the legitimacy of an English Departm Simply the best: for anyone who wants to challenge their creativity and to learn the pleasure of this hard work--writing. If you only have time to read one and only one book on writing, choose this one. You will not regret it. Besides, it's really short: less than 200 pages. On top of everything, it is amazingly readable--a paragon of non-textbook. No wonder the third edition is already out. This book changed my view about composition courses; it convinced me the legitimacy of an English Department in every University; it inspired me to become a good writing; it demystified the complete writing process; it opened the door of literature for me. In other words, this book transcends its stated aim of writing, it takes you to the open space where you can converse with all the past masters and see with your own eyes how their mind works. You do not want to miss this wonderful opportunity.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Mike Fiddleman

    One of my favorite professors at University of Texas, John Trimble speaks exactly as he writes. Lively, thoughtful, original and highly memorable. Perfect for a guy who believes a good writer expresses themselves just as an intelligent person would speak, given a moment or two to think. His extraordinarily human-friendly style served me well in my career as an ad writer and creative director. Quite a few folks in New York, Hollywood and Cannes approved as well. But even if you write nothing but One of my favorite professors at University of Texas, John Trimble speaks exactly as he writes. Lively, thoughtful, original and highly memorable. Perfect for a guy who believes a good writer expresses themselves just as an intelligent person would speak, given a moment or two to think. His extraordinarily human-friendly style served me well in my career as an ad writer and creative director. Quite a few folks in New York, Hollywood and Cannes approved as well. But even if you write nothing but memos, texts or spray paint your opinions on overpasses, you'll greatly benefit from the undeniable wisdom of this book. Thanks John!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Phillip.c.lacey

    In this friendly style manual, famed UT professor John Trimble addresses issues that writers of all caliber face. Never condescending, Writing with Style meets you on your level, gently uncovers your writing flaws, and then guides you through the solutions. This book is not only useful as a reference manual, but also fun and easy to read.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Dean

    I decided to borrow this from the library, and I read it in a day. Okay, sorry, I did speed-read and skim through some of it. But Trimble practices what he preaches, and he has been delightful to read. This book will also possibly be life-changing, for writing will, Lord willing, continue to be a large part of my life, and it truly is about serving others and counting them more worthy than myself. Alas, in finishing this book in a day, I must say that my short review is poorly written, but I do I decided to borrow this from the library, and I read it in a day. Okay, sorry, I did speed-read and skim through some of it. But Trimble practices what he preaches, and he has been delightful to read. This book will also possibly be life-changing, for writing will, Lord willing, continue to be a large part of my life, and it truly is about serving others and counting them more worthy than myself. Alas, in finishing this book in a day, I must say that my short review is poorly written, but I do intend to print out some quotations I gleaned from this book as a reminder for me to be kind and courteous in my writing. If it's too expensive, get an earlier edition, or perhaps better, loan it from a local library, as I did. I'm glad I was recommended this book instead of another writing book, such as Strunk & White. (Trimble takes a light stab against Strunk & White.) Thanks, WAR and FCP for the recommendation!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Robin

    Can we give a book six stars out of five? I had the rare privilege of studying the Trimble Method in college at The University of Texas . His method changed my life. Like many of my age, I was beaten down by English professors whose techniques were at best sketchy. These professors were mostly failed writers themselves, foisting their unsuccessful writing techniques on to naive teenagers who blindly followed their advice. When I finally made my way to Trimble’s Advanced Expository Writing Course Can we give a book six stars out of five? I had the rare privilege of studying the Trimble Method in college at The University of Texas . His method changed my life. Like many of my age, I was beaten down by English professors whose techniques were at best sketchy. These professors were mostly failed writers themselves, foisting their unsuccessful writing techniques on to naive teenagers who blindly followed their advice. When I finally made my way to Trimble’s Advanced Expository Writing Course, I was wary of all writing “teachers”... I read this book and at last found my voice. I write professionally now, and go back to the Trimble Method almost every day of my life. I hope that someone out there will read this review and see if Trimble can change their life too.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Abby

    If you are interested becoming a better writer, this is a great book to look into. I love how, as he tells his reader how to write, Trimble follows his own rules. He talks about the importance of thinking of your reader, and he gives advice on how to make the reader comfortable with tone, sentence structure, diction, etc., and at the same time, he is incredibly considerate of his own readers. His book is a wonderful example of the principles he is trying to teach. It is easy, short, and interest If you are interested becoming a better writer, this is a great book to look into. I love how, as he tells his reader how to write, Trimble follows his own rules. He talks about the importance of thinking of your reader, and he gives advice on how to make the reader comfortable with tone, sentence structure, diction, etc., and at the same time, he is incredibly considerate of his own readers. His book is a wonderful example of the principles he is trying to teach. It is easy, short, and interesting.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Leanne

    Trimble's book, which I picked up in college, is a classic on writing and good to re-read when you are looking for inspiration. Trimble's book, which I picked up in college, is a classic on writing and good to re-read when you are looking for inspiration.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Hasitha Gampa

    good book b/c it gives very helpful tips on how to improve writing. A tip I found helpful is to clear your mind and think before you write so your words make sense and aren't too cluttered. good book b/c it gives very helpful tips on how to improve writing. A tip I found helpful is to clear your mind and think before you write so your words make sense and aren't too cluttered.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Osborne

    One of my favorite books, not just on writing.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Landon_Bropez

    One of my favorites to read when uninspired. Dan Harmon says that writers are better critics than creators; to leverage this imbalance, he recommends provisionally creating something inadequate and criticizing it into something worth releasing. “Writing with Style” focuses this critical lens on our use of language. Is our prose conversational enough? Do the pacing and punctuation properly convey the relations between ideas? Are these ideas worth laboring over, or are we wasting our time (and the r One of my favorites to read when uninspired. Dan Harmon says that writers are better critics than creators; to leverage this imbalance, he recommends provisionally creating something inadequate and criticizing it into something worth releasing. “Writing with Style” focuses this critical lens on our use of language. Is our prose conversational enough? Do the pacing and punctuation properly convey the relations between ideas? Are these ideas worth laboring over, or are we wasting our time (and the reader’s)? It can be dry at times, which is to be expected from such a comprehensive guide—to be wholly entertaining is to omit the unglamorous—but the validity of Trimble’s lessons is apparent in his elegant, often-humorous, always-readable prose. In amateur writing, the author conjures up the words; in expert writing, the words conjure up the author.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie Nguyen

    An oldie but a goodie. Read this in high school and reread again while I am writing my dissertation. It’s a solid reference book on how to write a short, critical analysis essay or a journalistic piece. The first three chapters—the opening, middle, and closer—are the most helpful advice. The thesis development segments are useful as Trimble shows how to generate and refine an argument, which should be controversial and debatable. I skimmed the last chapters, such as the punctuation one, because An oldie but a goodie. Read this in high school and reread again while I am writing my dissertation. It’s a solid reference book on how to write a short, critical analysis essay or a journalistic piece. The first three chapters—the opening, middle, and closer—are the most helpful advice. The thesis development segments are useful as Trimble shows how to generate and refine an argument, which should be controversial and debatable. I skimmed the last chapters, such as the punctuation one, because they’re pretty dry, detailed, and almost like a textbook. The book is meant to be a general guide to stylistic writing, not academic writing or dissertation writing. One con is that Trimble assumes that readers have “an ear” for what sounds readable; so the audience is more towards advanced writers whose first language is English. His advice about reading out loud to figure out pacing and readability will not help English as a second language writers.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Todd Luallen

    Exceptional book on writing. I loved every chapter. Trimble has a conversational tone that makes his writing effortless to read. I thoroughly recommend this book to anyone that wants to communicate more clearly through the written word. I do, however, have a rather large complaint for the publisher. This book is not available in an e-book format. Come on! Seriously? For people like me that have poor eyesight, reading the small text in the paperback book is a laborious task. PLEASE release an e-b Exceptional book on writing. I loved every chapter. Trimble has a conversational tone that makes his writing effortless to read. I thoroughly recommend this book to anyone that wants to communicate more clearly through the written word. I do, however, have a rather large complaint for the publisher. This book is not available in an e-book format. Come on! Seriously? For people like me that have poor eyesight, reading the small text in the paperback book is a laborious task. PLEASE release an e-book format for this book!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jana Tenbrook (Reviews from the Stacks)

    If you're willing to jump through from highlighted point to highlighted point, then this clearly-organized manual is a good choice. If, however, you would prefer to read every word the author writes and attempt to engage in the advertised style of "conversing" on the art of writing, then you're likely going to be bored to death. There are some helpful points in here and it is well laid out. Unfortunately, the author is too present in his work; he says more than necessary and expects the reader t If you're willing to jump through from highlighted point to highlighted point, then this clearly-organized manual is a good choice. If, however, you would prefer to read every word the author writes and attempt to engage in the advertised style of "conversing" on the art of writing, then you're likely going to be bored to death. There are some helpful points in here and it is well laid out. Unfortunately, the author is too present in his work; he says more than necessary and expects the reader to hold onto everything he says as absolute truth, which is something I almost never do.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Laurie Holding

    Perfect for grammar nerds like me. English usage, how and when to use commas and colons, sentence structure advice, you name it. And yes, it was riveting for me. (I used a highlighter, for heaven's sake.) The first part of this was really for essay or non-fiction writers, people who need to quote sources, people who need to learn how to footnote. All still very good stuff, mind, but what I loved the most was the emphasis on punctuation. Ha, it's embarrassing. Perfect for grammar nerds like me. English usage, how and when to use commas and colons, sentence structure advice, you name it. And yes, it was riveting for me. (I used a highlighter, for heaven's sake.) The first part of this was really for essay or non-fiction writers, people who need to quote sources, people who need to learn how to footnote. All still very good stuff, mind, but what I loved the most was the emphasis on punctuation. Ha, it's embarrassing.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Joe

    A powerful guidebook that every serious writer should read from cover to cover and keep on their desk. Split into well-organized chapters like "Thinking," "Starting," and "Readability." Refreshing and elucidating commentary on student writing and plenty of fascinating quotes from literary giants. Five out of five stars. A powerful guidebook that every serious writer should read from cover to cover and keep on their desk. Split into well-organized chapters like "Thinking," "Starting," and "Readability." Refreshing and elucidating commentary on student writing and plenty of fascinating quotes from literary giants. Five out of five stars.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Miriam

    I haven't needed to write any major papers in school yet, but when I do, this little book will be at my elbow the entire time. Trimble employs all the strategies and tips he outlines in his own writing--I even read this book just for fun sometimes, it's that good. If you need a clear, concise guide on exactly how experienced writers think and how they write, look no further. Here it is! I haven't needed to write any major papers in school yet, but when I do, this little book will be at my elbow the entire time. Trimble employs all the strategies and tips he outlines in his own writing--I even read this book just for fun sometimes, it's that good. If you need a clear, concise guide on exactly how experienced writers think and how they write, look no further. Here it is!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Ryan Patrick

    I enjoyed the first part where he talks about the difference between beginning and experienced writers. The rest was just fine. I don't agree with him on some issues of style (nor does the Chicago Manual of Style!), but I'm such a prescriptivist that it's not too surprising (we're not in vogue these days). I enjoyed the first part where he talks about the difference between beginning and experienced writers. The rest was just fine. I don't agree with him on some issues of style (nor does the Chicago Manual of Style!), but I'm such a prescriptivist that it's not too surprising (we're not in vogue these days).

  21. 5 out of 5

    Vanellope

    It's not, like Amazing or anything, but for a writing manual that we basically used as a textbook, it was pretty enjoyable to read. There were some things that seemed contradictory or not explained enough, but for the most part it was helpful and led to good conversations. It's not, like Amazing or anything, but for a writing manual that we basically used as a textbook, it was pretty enjoyable to read. There were some things that seemed contradictory or not explained enough, but for the most part it was helpful and led to good conversations.

  22. 4 out of 5

    lily mclaughlin

    that was boooooring tbh. except for the part where he brought up "why did he use a semicolon there?" and in the next sentence, there was a semicolon. little things like that made the book breathable. plus, i'm still not sure if i'm quoting correctly! that was boooooring tbh. except for the part where he brought up "why did he use a semicolon there?" and in the next sentence, there was a semicolon. little things like that made the book breathable. plus, i'm still not sure if i'm quoting correctly!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Margret

    I've read a few books on writing and this is one of my favorite. It's easy and well-written. Very good tips and how to keep writing. I've read a few books on writing and this is one of my favorite. It's easy and well-written. Very good tips and how to keep writing.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Julia P

    This is the sort of stuff we should have learned sophomore year of high school.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Megan Byrd

    A very helpful book on grammar and writing style. Infused with humor it makes it an informative and enjoyable read. Finishes with quotes from writers on writing.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Burt

    Concise, pithy, inspirational.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jessica (thebluestocking)

    Conversational, educational, relatively short, and interesting but more geared toward academic writing than I had hoped.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Laura Verret

    Writing with Style is a survival kit; it’s helped me understand many of the problems I face as a writer and how to overcome them. But it’s also a tool-box; ready with a host of suggestions that bettered my writing in places I didn’t know needed improvement. Mr. Trimble provides tips that make the actual writing process easier, but he also shows how to make our writing more effective. He encourages us to think beyond ourselves when we write; to not focus on whether a phrase sounds super-smart but Writing with Style is a survival kit; it’s helped me understand many of the problems I face as a writer and how to overcome them. But it’s also a tool-box; ready with a host of suggestions that bettered my writing in places I didn’t know needed improvement. Mr. Trimble provides tips that make the actual writing process easier, but he also shows how to make our writing more effective. He encourages us to think beyond ourselves when we write; to not focus on whether a phrase sounds super-smart but if it conveys your intended message in the simplest form possible. As communicators, we desire to write technically excellent material, but we should be careful that ‘technically excellent’ does not become ‘intolerably stuffy’. It is easy to slip into writing high-browed material that nobody (including yourself :D) understands. This defeats the purpose of good writing, which is to communicate, not inflate yourself. It’s hard to write. And it’s even harder to write convincingly. But Mr. Trimble offers several words of advice here. The first is, don’t try to write convincingly about a topic that holds no conviction for you. The second is to write with your audience in mind. If you’re hoping to be read by cold-hearted logicians, then you will rely less on emotional appeal than if you’re writing to romantic teenagers. The third is to write with clarity. You may be able to scribble down a few sentences which make perfectly good sense to you, but they mean nothing to other readers. It is important to present your argument as precisely and with as much continuity as possible. This step requires a lot of work. As George Trevelyan said: What is easy to read has been difficult to write. The easily flowing connection of sentence with sentence and paragraph with paragraph has always been won by the sweat of the brow. [pg. 21] Mr. Trimble then goes on to apply these principles to writing essays, critical analyses, openers, middles, and closers. Conclusion. Writing with Style has been of enormous practical benefit. Although I would not do Mr. Trimble the disfavor of pointing to my writing as an example of his teaching, I have been able to apply many of his tips in my latest reviews.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jeannie

    This book was the main text for my first composition class as an English major at BYU. That was more than 30 years ago and I still pull Trimble off the shelf when I need to teach certain concepts or just check my own writing. Once in a while I like to just take Trimble down off the shelf and read him again. He applies the concepts as he teaches them, taking all of the drudgery out of learning the mechanics of writing. As a result, Writing with Style doesn't read like a text book. It's just a gre This book was the main text for my first composition class as an English major at BYU. That was more than 30 years ago and I still pull Trimble off the shelf when I need to teach certain concepts or just check my own writing. Once in a while I like to just take Trimble down off the shelf and read him again. He applies the concepts as he teaches them, taking all of the drudgery out of learning the mechanics of writing. As a result, Writing with Style doesn't read like a text book. It's just a great non-fiction read. I especially enjoy Chapter 10 every time I read this book. I've read this chapter at least a hundred times and it never ceases to bring me great delight. I often quote the entire chapter to my children, students, family, and friends who seek my help with their writing. In this chapter, "The art of revising," Trimble simply quotes an interview with Hemingway from the Paris Review. The interviewer asks, "How much rewriting do you do?" Hemingway responds with, "It depends. I rewrote the ending of A Farewell to Arms, the last page of it, thirty-nine times before I was satisfied." The interviewer asks more questions: "Was there some technical problem there? What was it that had you stumped?" Hemingway's understated and unexpected answer says it all. He simply says, "Getting the words right." End of interview. End of chapter. I didn't love English 252, but I love this book.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Bob Nichols

    Among writing books, this is the best I've come across. Trimble's focus is not on fussy rules and convention, but what makes sense, common sense, for clarity and communication. In approaching writing this way, Trimble frees the writer to take some liberties and be, perhaps, more creative and authentic. Even so, Trimble has his own rules to be followed: be crisp and clear, save space, offer variety, freshness and surprise. "Delete" is a favorite mantra; avoid the "God-like Pose," the "Dogma of For Among writing books, this is the best I've come across. Trimble's focus is not on fussy rules and convention, but what makes sense, common sense, for clarity and communication. In approaching writing this way, Trimble frees the writer to take some liberties and be, perhaps, more creative and authentic. Even so, Trimble has his own rules to be followed: be crisp and clear, save space, offer variety, freshness and surprise. "Delete" is a favorite mantra; avoid the "God-like Pose," the "Dogma of Formalism," and don't be intimidated by "The One True English Language Sect." Here and there, Trimble surprisingly slips into the very traps he tells us to avoid. He tells us to go with certain conventions or "we risk coming across as unschooled." Crispness means going for the shorter version, but there has to be room for cadence and flourish. He advises against props such as, "in my opinion," yet these words can take the edge off of tiresome and overconfident assertion. He writes that we are to enclose numbers with both parentheses, not just one. Is this fussiness? He refers to the distinction between oral and verbal, and the uniqueness of unique, even though common usage has overtaken his rule about both. The best part of this book is that Trimble sees the writing craft as a means, not as an end. The former helps the writer to instruct, convey or entertain.

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