Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Writing Book Review: Editing Made Easy

Not the right cover

Title: Editing Made Easy: Simple Rules for Effective Writing
Author: Bruce Kaplan
Publisher: Upper Access, Inc., Book Publishers, 2012 (Revised & expanded U.S. edition); 112 pages
Source: Library

In addition to the title and subtitle (annoyingly all in lower case, which I find very weird for a book about getting everything right when writing), this book has the statement on the cover, "A friendly, practical guide for writers, students, business executives, Web developers--and anyone else who wants to write well." That is a decent summary of the book, which offers an extremely brief and easy-to-read summary of some key issues that will make your writing stronger. Editing Made Easy has a noticeable bias to journalistic writing, and scarcely acknowledges that matters can be different for fiction.

I found that bias annoying, especially as there were some examples (particularly in the section on pronouns) that came out clunky. I get the need to make pronouns actually align with the right subject, but repeating names too often is inelegant. Find a better way. And an insistence on shorter and simpler sentences is not all bad, but a writer of fiction needs to remember that there are times to take a different approach. I'm more of the "mix it up" school of writing that believes flow is optimized by using both long and short sentences and paragraphs. Again, I think this reflects the journalistic bias of the book.

Overall, however, the book offers a quick and simple reference for areas in which many writers go wrong: commonly misused or confused words (I LOVE lists that I can go to in a hurry to find out if I mean stationary or stationery, since I can't remember from one time to the next!), basics of punctuation, avoiding the passive voice, and some commonly overused words. I added a couple to my standard late-stage-editing searches: "of the" and "that" in particular, though again, not every instance of "of the" needs to be replaced with a possessive.

The book is very short and easy to read, so my time commitment was small (and I read it during a shift when I had to be sitting around in the library looking sort of official, so it worked well). I probably wouldn't recommend this for accomplished writers, but anyone who feels a bit insecure about some of the rules and regs could find it helpful to have around as a reference.

Mr. Kaplan really ought to find a better designer, though. Printing all the titles (of chapters as well as on the cover) in lower case is just wrong on a book of this sort.

For those who want a quick reference for tricky spellings and usages, or a fast review of things like active and passive voice.

Full Disclosure: I checked Editing Made Easy out of my local library, and received nothing from the writer or publisher in exchange for my honest review.  The opinions expressed are my own and those of no one else.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."


  1. Great review. I love your cover comments, though. You always make me smile. I hope you are doing well, Rebecca!


We want to hear from you! Tell us your reactions, or whatever's on your mind.