Getting the Words Right, by Theodore R. A. Cheney

"A merely good piece of description can be transformed into a memorable one by cutting away what disguises it." — T.R.A. Cheney

Getting the Words Right is full of detailed explanations of how revision can improve a piece of writing. I’m especially fond of the first section, "Reduce".  (For more on that topic, see my article, "Samurai Editing".)

But the later sections, "Rearrange" and "Reword", are terrific as well, with plenty of concrete suggestions to make your writing shine. While some authors make recommendations that seem too vague to follow, Cheney doesn’t just tell writers to, for example, revise their word order. He tells how to do that, giving several examples of poor word order, and making clear just how and why he would revise them.

If you’re hoping to improve your writing, or just to understand what good editing is all about, this book will help.