Book Review - Writing with Style - Sue Young

It looks like it has become some kind of ritual for me that anytime I visit home (Bhubaneswar), I read some books. But this July, when I visited Bhubaneswar just for a day, I was not interested to read any book. I wanted to finish the work that I had and then spend the remaining time with family.

It was past midnight when I retired to bed after a huge dinner with my cousins. My return train was at 8.30 am in the morning. So, I planned to take some rest and wake up early morning to get ready for the return journey. It was around 3.30 am that I woke up. However much I tried to sleep, I could not. So, I looked here and there and my eyes went to the book shelf. Lying there in piles were many interesting books, mostly fat novels, non-fiction and one of the first self help book compiled by Readers Digest that I  had read some 30 years ago. Picking up a fat book was not exciting as I knew I would not be able to finish it completely. So, I searched for a smaller book, something that I could devour in a few hours. That is when I saw this book. It was a thin book. It was about writing in English. This is a subject which I like as I write a lot and am trying to improve my writing. Hence, I picked it up. It was just 140 pages. My first thought was that I could not finish it in a couple of hours. Then when I looked at the pages, I found that it was printed in large type face. I guessed that it could be for high school students. Nonetheless, I was happy with the prospect of being able to wrap it up in a few hours.

The Author, Sue Young, has written an excellent and concise book for young adults. It covers all that is required to know for a high school or college student about writing reports, essays, prose, short stories and even plays.

She introduced the concept of 4Ps of writing. Planning, Production, Polishing and Presentation. I simply loved it because though I write pretty much, but I had never thought about writing in such a systematic and structured way.

In the chapter on planning, she talks about how to plan before starting to write. It is about collecting books and other materials needed to write, being in a distraction free place, jotting down main ideas, making an outline, or a Venn diagram, and then proceeding to write.

The next step is Production. This is the core of the writing. Here she talks about how to write different types of reports, essay, story, plays, poems etc. She also tells us how to get the maximum from the English language through usage of thesaurus, usage of style elements, alliteration, words having meaning of sound, etc.

Then she describes the Polishing, where she discusses about grammatically correct usage, popular wrong usages etc. She has advised one thing which should be in the arsenal of all writers. It is reviewing your work, checking for grammar, organization of ideas and re-writing stuff that you feel is not up to mark. I remember someone told similar thing about speech writing. A good speech is never written, it is always rewritten.

Finally in the Presentation phase, she tells about how to proofread the final version, create a hard copy, and whether to hand write or to type it, when to bind it etc.

I realized that though this must have been written some time back, most of the ideas and suggestions are still valid. It was an eye-opener for me that writing could be so systematic. I would recommend this book to all aspiring writers. Having read this, I now know how much I do not know and hence have to read many more books on how to develop a good writing style.

P. S: I was wondering sometime back that I should get a mentor for me who can help me with developing my writing style. Now, Sue Young, is probably the mentor that Universe presented to me. I am grateful to her for opening my eyes.


  1. Yet another helpful post Braja! (y) :)

  2. Nice review as usual and also it Sounds very interesting Braja ji! Can I borrow it from you ?

    1. Hey Madhuri, Thanks for reading. I read this book at my home town. Unfortunately, I do not have it here with me.


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