All you need to master writing, step by step
“This is the book Pinker wishes he wrote.” “Move over, Strunk and White.” “Without peer.” “Trust me; it works.” “Just the right blend of rigor, encouragement, and fun.” “Both useful and a pleasure.” “A bounty of usable information.”
Those are just a handful of raves for The Elements of Writing (previously published as The Big Book of Writing and The Writing Code), the only comprehensive system for writing well in all fields.
Author and teacher Charles Euchner developed The Elements by systematically “reverse-engineering” some of the best writers from antiquity to modern times. provides close to 100 case studies showing how the masters approach every challenge a writer faces. Euchner shows, step by step, how the best writers deal with everything from character development to editing messy drafts.
As a result, The Elements provides tutorials from the very best in the business—Homer and Aristotle and Shakespeare, Mark Twain and Stephen Crane, Hemingway and Faulkner, Virginia Woolf and Tom Wolfe, Zadie Smith and Elizabeth Gilbert, Martin Luther King and C.S. Lewis, Casablanca and The Wizard of Oz, Laura Hillenbrand and Emma Donoghue—and dozens more.
At the core of The Elements is the Golden Rule of Writing. If you can master this simple idea, you can instantly transform your storytelling technique, write dynamic sentences and paragraphs, revise and edit drafts in a fraction of the time, and explain complex ideas in clear, straightforward prose.
In this comprehensive work, Euchner shows you how to:
• Understand the inner structure of all human perception and interaction through the Golden Rule of Writing. When you understand this secret, all of the challenges of writing come more easily.
• Build great stories, step by step, by treating compelling characters using the Character Dossier … creating a great cast of characters with the Wheel of Archetypes … create dynamic scenes using Beats and Cliffhangers … and creating a compelling “World of the Story.”
• Allow ideas to “unfold” one by one, rather than rushing and packing ideas too closely together (the “tin or sardines” problem).
• Use tools like the Landscape View, the Idea Bucket, the Tabloid Headline, Slotting, Traffic Signs, and the Search and Destroy system to take command of the mechanics of writing.
• Develop compelling arguments by applying storytelling skills to analysis—by learning how to brainstorm like a pro, isolate possible explanations for questions, and climb up and down the Ladder of Abstraction.
And so much more.
At last, a comprehensive writing guide for architects and planners.
Writing About Place offers the ultimate blueprint for the professionals who design and build our world.
With case studies from the best writers on placemaking—from Vitruvius to Rybczynski—WAP provides all the basic skills and ‘tricks of the trade’ to write memos, reports, proposals, and critiques.
Writing About Place offers a “two-fer.” In addition to providing simple, intuitive techniques to every writing challenge — building great sentences and paragraphs, determining the structure of a piece, telling compelling stories, editing, and crafting a convincing analysis — WAPalso provides a broad introduction to the compelling literature on architecture and planning.
The book shows how to produce five essential pieces of writing in architecture, planning, preservation, and other place-oriented writing:
• Portraits of people: To do any place-based project, you need to know your client or users.
• Description of a place: To plan or design a place, we need to understand how it might work.
• Breakdown of an action: Place, ultimately, is for people to use, so we need to understand the detailed ways that people act.
• Explanation of a complex process: The best places accommodate complex and unpredictable processes.
• Analysis of an issue: All placemaking occurs as part of a larger process, so we need to understand what causes what in a community, building, or other place.
Charles Euchner produced this work for a class at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation. Writing About Place offers a foundation for all the work of students and practitioners of placemaking.