Read Revising Prose by Richard A. Lanham Online


As its title implies, this book deals with revising, not with original composition. Revising Prose enables students to work on their own at steady, detailed revision. Stressing the importance of the single sentence, The Paramedic Method of revision provides students with an easily learned method of revision to combat the obscurities of meaning that plague The Official StylAs its title implies, this book deals with revising, not with original composition. Revising Prose enables students to work on their own at steady, detailed revision. Stressing the importance of the single sentence, The Paramedic Method of revision provides students with an easily learned method of revision to combat the obscurities of meaning that plague The Official Style, and demonstrates how to revise this stilted, dense prose into plain English. This text has been used with success at every level of higher education, in all disciplines, wherever extensive writing is required. An accompanying 30-minute Revising Prose Video, as well as a Set of Interactive Revision Exercises, are available from Rhetorica, Inc. for an additional fee....

Title : Revising Prose
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780205309450
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 209 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Revising Prose Reviews

  • Sue
    2019-02-25 07:15

    I'm teaching a writing workshop at a tiny high school and am surprised at how much of the students' work is in 'Offical Style'(Lanham's term): passive, laden with needless words and thin on ideas. This book is offers ways to combat such writing.

  • Terence
    2019-02-27 06:21

    This volume plus my 11th grade/College Comp teacher pretty much taught me all I know about writing well.Any edition is highly recommended.

  • Christian Jespersen
    2019-02-27 01:06

    Writing is tough, reading can be tougher. Especially if it is official prose, defined by by being too long, and too hard to understand.Revising Prose elegantly describes the importance of writong in a human voice.Back in grammar classes at uni, this book would have been a blessing to have had, rather than the books we had.If you do any writing in you life, do yourself a favor and read this book.

  • Emrullah Koyunlu
    2019-03-14 05:20

    It's one of the books that gives what is exactly promised, nothing more, nothing less. And considering the market is flooded by the books promising to make you a master of writing while actually giving nothing, finding such a honest and structured book is a blessing. The writing style is quite dry, but considering the topic, it's not a detractor but an advantage.

  • Elizabeth
    2019-03-19 00:02

    The fifth edition of Richard Lanham’s Revising Prose (Pearson, 2007) is animated by a single purpose: to demonstrate how to diagnose and revise the “Official Style.” By Official Style, Lanham refers to the obtuse, jargon-laden prose that animates writing in the business world and the academy. Lanham believes the ubiquity of the Official Style is a product of imitation rather than laziness. Writers communicate ineffectively because they mimic the patterns other writers employ. But Lanham is out to fix this. Revising Prose offers readers eight steps (“The Paramedic Method”) to identify and amend Official Style. These steps are outlined in the text, and appear prominently on the final page of the book’s preface. (Lanham suggests you might, “Copy it and tack it above your desk for easy reference” [viii]). The steps of the Paramedic Method are as follows:1. Circle the prepositions.2. Circle the “is” forms.3. Find the action.4. Put this action in a simple (not compound) active verb.5. Start fast—no slow windups.6. Read the passage aloud with emphasis and feeling.7. Write out each sentence on a blank screen or sheet of paper and mark off its basic rhythmic units with a “/.”8. Mark off sentence length with a “/.” (x)The first three chapters of Revising Prose walk readers through these steps, primarily through attention to individual sentences. (Indeed, only the step lends to looking at a unit longer than a sentence.) From here, Lanham focuses on examples of Official Style in various arenas: “Business Prose” (Chapter 5), “Professional Prose”—which covers both lawyers and academics—(Chapter 6), and “Electronic Prose” (Chapter 7). Of these chapters, it was the latter that felt most out of place. Lanham tries to illuminate how electronic prose transforms the capacity to revise things visually. However, his examples didn’t always persuade me, and his suggestion that digital environments hearken a world in which all prose might be transformed felt a bit determinist.Nonetheless, in all of these chapters, Lanham provides plentiful examples alongside clear and concise revisions. Moreover, he narrates the thought process underlying his revisions in a way that is easy to follow. Lanham’s narration is both helpful and necessary. The Paramedic Method, clear as it might be, does far more to identify patterns than it offers solutions. However, when coupled with Lanham’s explicitly stated reasoning, readers not only understand how the Method operates, but also how they can use it to begin the revision process. Lanham’s reasoning is equally clear and even more compelling in the book’s final chapter, “Why Bother?” Lanham takes seriously the implications of style. Of course, he offers pragmatic reasons for why we would want to write shorter, simpler sentences (i.e., saving paper, saving time). But he’s more interested in the theoretical implications of writing, generally, and style, in particular. As Lanham puts it:Writing clarifies, strengthens, and energizes the self, renders individuality rich, full, and social. This does not mean writing that flows, as Terry Southern immortally put it, “right out of the old guts onto the goddamn paper.” Precisely the opposite. Only by taking the position of the reader toward one’s own prose, putting a reader’s pressure on it, can the self be made to grow into full sociability. Writing should enhance and expand the self, allow it to try out new possibilities, tentative selves. (129)Given such an understanding of writing, style becomes a means of expressing a particular political attitude toward ourselves and toward society. In other words, Lanham understands his approach to style is evaluative. All approaches to style are. But when embraced, Lanham’s style values coherence over chaos, understanding over obfuscation. Will there be situations in which imitation or adoption of a different style might be called for? Yes. But I’m with Lanham when he suggests that we may as well have the facility to write both ways, and that writing more clearly will only become more valuable as attention becomes scarcer. Revising Prose presents excellent steps for beginning to write with such clarity, particularly at the sentence level. And as Lanham’s ubiquitous and far-ranging examples attest, it’s a volume that’s relevant to various professions and ages.

  • Travis
    2019-03-02 04:21

    I've been using Lanham's "Revising Prose" video (now available on DVD) in my university writing classes for years--it's a bit clunky, but entertaining and lucid. In a nutshell, it provides a concise, powerful method for evaluating and improving sentence clarity and structure, thereby remedying the "official style" (the convoluted and murky sentences typical of passive-voice constructions modified by strings of prepositional phrases). The book is essentially an extended and supplemented explanation of the revision strategy Lanham calls (in both his book and DVD) the 'Paramedic Method,' which entails the following 8 steps:1. Identify the prepositions in a sentence, then eliminate as many as possible by replacing them with possessives, by avoiding redundancy, etc.2. identify the passive verbs3. Find the expressed or implied action4. Restate the action with an active verb5. Rewrite the sentence with a fast start, avoiding mindless introductions6. Read the sentence aloud with emphasis and feeling7. Mark off the sentence's basic rhythmic units, eliminating "laundry list" formulations and repeated sentence patterns8. Count the words in the sentence and try to reduce them by halfThe weakness of "Revising Prose" is a direct consequence of its strength--it is the very essence of simplicity. Its eight steps are easy to apply and easy to remember. It also limits itself to sentence revision, rather than paragraph or text revision. In fact, "Revising Prose" is more a concision rubric than a style handbook. Hence, it provides neither the detail nor the scope of books like Joseph Williams' "Style: A Lesson in Clarity and Grace" (which I highly recommend, by the way). Nevertheless, since Lanham's book performs its chosen task superbly, it constitutes a fine addition to any library of writing improvement materials and will no doubt prove helpful to any writer. My only reason for downgrading the rating from 5 to 4 stars is the ridiculous price of the 5th edition, which is unfortunately typical of Longman titles.

  • Adam
    2019-02-23 05:06

    Lanham's Revising Prose is short and to the point. His method is clear and logical, and it's easy to see what he's trying to help readers avoid. The Official Style, as he styles it, is the way textbooks, school reports, and far too many academic works are written. It is noun-centered, and uses many prepositional phrases and passive constructions to mask its meaning. His analysis in the final chapter of why the Official Style has arisen and why it is bad is particularly well written. He seems to have had a very keen intellect. I would recommend this for anyone uncomfortable with their prose, as I was. I feel like I don't make many of the more overt mistakes he discusses, although I'm sure my style leans more toward the Official Style than I'd like. But it has given me a place to start, a way to think about my writing that no previous tutor, class, or book has given me. It's short and worth its time. "If you want to write well, you've got to read widely and with attention. It is just like life. If you don't pay attention, you'll give yourself away. The small mistakes are often the largest."

  • C.G. Fewston
    2019-03-16 07:08

    Brilliant and simple. At times it is extremely repetitive, but for a very strong reason. By thirty pages the reader begins to see the purpose of clear writing and the ambiguity and silliness of the Official Style. The Lard Factor is something I will use in my writing classes and workshops. Much advice also prevails throughout, as in the last chapter: "When we object to the prose, we are actually objecting to the habit of thought, the bureaucratic habits of thought and way of life. It is because, paradoxically enough, the style is so clear, so successfully communicates a style of life, that we so feel its emotional impoverishment" (5th edition, p 132). This book is a must for any writer at any level and should be taught in writing classes across the country. It also makes a great companion to The Elements of Style by Strunk and White.

  • Jonathan Ball
    2019-02-25 03:12

    Revising Prose is a handbook-cum-manifesto for clear yet carefully constructed prose, in opposition to 'Office Style' bureaucrat speak that has invaded academia. While Derrida and a handful of others have made a poetic virtue of a certain disorderly approach to prose, most such authors (including Derrida's imitators) are disastrous prose thinkers. I write 'thinker' rather than 'stylist' because Lanham argues for prose as an indication of one's thought, and indeed one of the effects of the 'Official Style' is the covering up of vapid thought with fluttery prose. The chapter on 'electronic literacy' seems a bit naive, but my edition is from 2000 so this is to be expected. The handbook section outlines Lanham's 'paramedic method' of prose revision, which is sound, simple, and artfully explained.

  • Mark Fullmer
    2019-03-07 05:09

    When I was first introduced to Richard Lanham's ideas about prose early on in college, my own ideas about writing were pretty adolescent. And he was like a lightbulb. Returning to it now, in a 2007 fifth edition, I find some nice interesting comments about writing in the electronic age, but basically think Lanham's saying the same main (and good) point, whether he's talking about business prose, academic prose, electronic prose, or anything else. And those ideas aren't all that revelatory (use active voice, avoid prepositions, vary your sentences--hello George Orwell!).So this book is a good read for people who need their eyes opened to those sorts of things, and it has a few useful exercises for sentence revision, but not nearly as much as I expected.

  • Vadim
    2019-02-27 00:04

    Каждый образованный человек в России владеет по крайней мере двумя языками: русским "домашним" и русским "официальным", "канцеляритом". Ученый и бизнесмен, полицейский и податель жалобы, стремясь выглядеть профессионально, подчиняют себя канонам официальной речи. Поначалу это сложно, но забавно: разговор про обыкновенные вещи необыкновенным языком. Затем легко, но скучно: торжественная речь, которую вместо тебя мог бы произнести кто угодно. "Взамодействие" вместо "беседы". Тем, кто кроме двух русских языков, владеет еще и английским, книга Ричарда Лэнгема поможет говорить на работе своим собственным голосом. Подробный разбор того, как редактировать английский канцелярит, даст много идей тому, кто хотел бы разучиться говорить на канцелярите русском.

  • Jon Mountjoy
    2019-03-18 05:03

    One of the most gratifying results of reading this book by Richard Lanham as to how to write better is that I feel that I now can write well, with a better understanding of rhythm and .... only kidding ;-)I enjoyed this little book about revising prose. As the title indicates, it's not about writing prose, but about revision. It's rule based, at the sentence level, has plenty of examples, pummels the hazy "official style" and will help you produce prose with clear actions and rollicking rhythms.I am hungry for more. I'd like a more expansive book on prose, written in this style with plenty of examples. Recommendations?

  • Jessica Carol
    2019-03-01 08:23

    This was great. Not only did Lanham present good information (needed information) and techniques, he did so in a very entertaining manner. He makes some excellent points about writing and the majority of his book is on revising the Offical Style, and writing in plain English that is clear and understandable.

  • Katsura
    2019-03-13 06:09

    Is there a fifth edition? WOW. It's still popular. It's kind of an old book: first edition published in 1979. But it's light reading; you can read within two hours. For me, it was very convinient since the public library has only one copy, and it was a reference book. However, this book provides a lot of excellent information for all kind of writers.

  • Sharene
    2019-02-28 05:24

    This is my favorite book on revision. Lanham pinpoints very common writing errors and provides easily understandable steps to fix them. I appreciate his many, many examples on how to implement his advice. His final chapter on the WHY of good writing is inspiring as much as the HOW described in the rest of the book. A concise powerhouse!

  • Public Words
    2019-03-09 08:29

    This too-often ignored book gives some surprisingly simple and straightforward ways to improve prose after it has been drafted. Anyone, even the ordinary non-writer, can benefit from reading this book and applying its insights to their own writing.

  • Public Words
    2019-02-26 04:07

    This too-often ignored book gives some surprisingly simple and straightforward ways to improve prose after it has been drafted. Anyone, even the ordinary non-writer, can benefit from reading this book and applying its insights to their own writing.

  • Brad
    2019-03-11 06:29

    This book shows you how to take the "blah blah blah" out of your sentences and write with impact. So many people use longwinded prose to sound smart, but we all know it's boring as hell to read. Writing is about communication, so be kind to your readers.

  • Peter Rogers
    2019-03-20 07:06

    Great book. Very helpful advice for revising prose. Richard Lanham is a literary genius. I learned a lot from him.

  • Claire S
    2019-03-15 08:29

    For when 'someday' arrives..

  • Jesse
    2019-03-13 07:29

    My favorite book on writing.

  • S.W. Gordon
    2019-03-04 07:06

    I write to get my thoughts onto paper; I revise to get my paper published.

  • Jess
    2019-03-12 00:17

    I always enjoy reading Lanham. Revising Prose instructs,inspires, and entertains--the perfect motivation to take his advice to heart in your own writing.

  • Tiffany
    2019-03-18 00:29


  • Tanya
    2019-02-25 06:16

    A quick read and a handy refresher on editing for clarity.

  • Theresa
    2019-03-08 03:11

    Mainly aimed at nonfiction and academic writing, but the lessons this book contains are useful for all writers.