No. of pages: 209
Price: Not stated
Reviewer: Jerry Dickson
Part III of this beautifully written book answers the questions currently agitating the minds of most writers and journalists today. In a full disclosure, Aniebo Nwamu, the author, said he researched into this part of the book while seeking solutions to his own problems. In 2014, he swore to quit paid employment; he has not looked back since then, having immersed himself in entrepreneurship as a skilled writer and editor with decades of experience behind him. Here, he offers over 30 business ideas to all communicators who have been caught unprepared by the digital revolution currently sweeping away jobs all over the world.
The era of journalism and publishing we used to know is coming to an end. Many media companies now renege on their contractual agreements with their employees or have folded up altogether. The surviving (or struggling) ones are no longer able to sustain funding for investigative journalism. Everyone – reporters, writers, editors and managers – is at risk of losing their job or working for free. Nwamu advises them to jump (as he did) and not wait to be pushed!
Skilled Writing and Editing, however, speaks to everyone in love with effective communication. And that means every person who can read and write in the English language. That’s why it begins by teaching how to write and speak better. To become a skilled writer and editor like Nwamu, you obviously must become well prepared with aptitude in the craft. After all, the mark of an educated person is their ability to read and write well. Many hardly get that desired education at school, especially these days. They need a sort of finishing school. Skilled Writing and Editing is not just a book – it is a finishing school as well.
The road to good communication is rough. With obstacles here and there, you keep falling and rising until you get to a desired destination. This book smoothens this road in an amazing way. From the first chapter to the last, the reader is taken through all the necessary lessons in English grammar without the reader even knowing it. Skilled Writing and Editing, no doubt, teaches grammar, creative writing, journalism and business in an uncommon way. It helps the reader to master the rudiments of grammar, punctuation, pronunciation, the tools of the writing trade, journalism and the literary principles that make writing and speech glamorous.
Divided into three parts, this book is a training manual for everyone: students, teachers, artistes, company executives, politicians, speechwriters, special assistants, public relations managers and statesmen.
Samplers: You think you know the pronunciation of Chevrolet? Or Peugeot, chauffeur and doyen? Or ewe and twilight? Go to chapter 2 and test yourself. There is a reason you should use five words to describe what would otherwise require 12 words. You must never “strip naked”! And do you know communication failure can cause a terrible accident, someone’s death or even a civil war?
If you have written or want to write a book, how much should you pay an editor to go over your work? What level of editing does your work require? Why do you write “14” in one sentence and “fourteen” in another? “Principle” and “principal” are pronounced alike, but should you use them interchangeably? On what occasion should you write “5%” instead of “5 per cent” or “five percent?” You have a guide in this book.
Through storytelling and quotations from the masters of old – from George Orwell, Francis Bacon and Chinua Achebe to Ernest Hemmingway, Virginia Woolf, John Sheffield and Shakespeare – Nwamu’s book makes an interesting read; it is unputdownable. After reading it to the end, those of us who didn’t study English or Mass Communication for our first degree definitely feel more enlightened. No longer shall we seek the meaning of “metonymy” and “synecdoche” or query some jargons used by writers. Nor would our speeches be jarring to the ears or achieve the opposite of the desired effect.
Are you still in school and need to score higher marks in examinations? Read this book. Want to improve your marketing skills by speaking and writing with authority? Read this book. Want to be recognised as an expert in memo and report writing in your place of work? This book should be your constant companion. It teaches how one could communicate effectively and earn money through their trade: the different ways of writing for the print media and the broadcast media, the future of journalism as well as how to make money in the newsroom.
You probably have heard about Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg address; that speech is here. And dreamer Martin Luther King (Jnr)’s famous speech? Jawaharlal Nehru and Pope Francis are among the speechmakers quoted in chapter 11. There are several extracts from speeches by Barack Obama, Nigerian leaders, football commentator Ernest Okonkwo, comedians, and several “murderers” of the English language that make you laugh or cry.
But this book offers much more. A key tip it gives is that if you want to write well you must write what is true. Even if it’s fiction, your story should be close to reality. If this author advises us to say what is true, he must have written the truth himself. I can testify that Nwamu truly takes his own medicine and keeps a promise he makes in the introduction: after reading this book you’re certain to become a better writer and a better editor.
One confession I must make is that, throughout the 209-page book, I couldn’t see any grammatical or spelling mistake. Is it that my eyes have not yet been opened or that Nwamu’s book indeed contains no error? He himself writes that no work is error-free; so I wait to see errors to be discovered by other readers.
The author has been a skilled writer and editor for over 30 years. I believe this book is his legacy for the younger generation. In 17 chapters, he provides what many have not learned after 17 years of schooling. I can’t wait to send copies to my loved ones.
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