LangMag Review Kallan

Carving Words

Renovating Your Writing: Shaping Ideas into Clear, Concise, and Compelling Messages
Richard Kallan
ISBN-10: 020525439X • ISBN-13: 9780205254392
(c)2013 • Pearson, White Plains, NY

Writing successfully is often a challenging task, one that many people struggle with throughout their careers and lives. In school, students are taught a specific format for writing and revising papers. Out of school, writers are faced with many other types of writing needs that can be taxing and difficult to master. Whether you are writing or revising an essay for a class, drafting a business proposal, or trying to engage in creative activities, writing can prove to be a frustrating and complex process, one that requires precision, time and thought. Richard Kallan’s text breaks down the difficult and often daunting task of writing by providing clear and effective strategies, explanations, and exercises. Renovating Your Writing serves as a useful tool in and outside of the classroom setting, one that offers a detailed insight into the methods of writing, drafting, and revising, of using particular grammatical functions, of creating concise sentences, and more.

Each chapter outlines a particular writing function, offering definitions and simple explanations and providing helpful hints and exercises that allow readers to apply theory to practice. Kallan affirms that the text is designed to hone the skill of a writer who has prior experience with writing but is looking for improvement and mastery. He notes that successful writing takes years of practice and his text serves as a working tool designed to offer tips and strategies that can increase the quality of writing and revising.

Kallan divides the text into two main parts, each of which is separated into chapters with clever titles such as “State Your Purpose Like You Mean It,” “Build Them (Paragraphs) Right and They (Readers) Will Come,” and “Drive Home Your Message: Format Your Document.” Avoiding complicated or coded language, the author offers a non-threatening view of the writing process. His easy-to-follow explanations, numerous examples, and practical strategies encourage the reader to consider effective writing as a feasible and engaging activity.

Part one focuses on the construction of sentences and paragraphs and explains how to make them concise and clear, emphasizing the importance of tightening up a sentence or paragraph while retaining the meaning. Part one also stresses the importance of writing direct statements using active words that result in stronger, clearer, and more coherent sentences. Each chapter in part one provides examples of poorly constructed paragraphs along with their revisions, giving the reader an idea of how well-structured sentences and paragraphs should read. Kallan also discusses the importance of sentence structure for creating an effectively organized paragraph or essay. Part two examines the use of punctuation, clarifies the protocol of writing emails, provides a system to gauge a writer’s skill level, and offers guidance for short story creation.

The value of Kallan’s text resides in its comprehensive approach to writing as an activity inherent to many spheres: academic, professional, and private. He utilizes a clear, informal writing style that allows readers to follow his methods and strategies effortlessly. Kallan’s helpful and easy-to-follow tips bestow confidence on those writers who might be hesitant when learning how to improve their writing. Renovating Your Writing is a relevant and useful text, one that focuses on the rewarding benefits of writing successfully. Kallan’s text is insightful and well structured, offering readers comprehensible rules and tactics to improve their skills in the process and production of writing.

Cristina Fucaloro is an English MA candidate with options in literature and rhetoric/composition at California Polytechnic University, Pomona.