Rachel Toor: How Do You Learn to Edit Yourself?

Writing in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Rachel Toor asks, “How Do You Learn to Edit Yourself?”

How can I help far-away geologists and physicists, historians and philologists, write better prose? I can’t. Not in some abstract, general way. All I can do is urge them to pay attention to well-written works in their own field, to read not just for content, but also for the nuances of style, and to steal the tools and tricks that good writers use. I can beg them to care about their sentences.

She also recommends several books about writing, including the venerable Strunk and White The Elements of Style, Joseph Williams’s Style: Toward Clarity and Grace, Deirdre McCloskey’s Economical Writing, and On Writing by Stephen King

Toor concludes: “Many professors say they don’t have time to spend on such self-help books. I say you don’t have time not to.”

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