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On Revision

The Only Writing That Counts

On Revision

The Only Writing That Counts

A trusted editor turns his attention to the most important part of writing: revision.

So you’ve just finished writing something? Congratulations! Now revise it. Because revision is about getting from good to better, and it’s only finished when you decide to stop. But where to begin? In On Revision, William Germano shows authors how to take on the most critical stage of writing anything: rewriting it.

For more than twenty years, thousands of writers have turned to Germano for his insider’s take on navigating the world of publishing. A professor, author, and veteran of the book industry, Germano knows what editors want and what writers need to know: Revising is not just correcting typos. Revising is about listening and seeing again. Revising is a rethinking of the principles from the ground up to understand why the writer is doing something, why they’re going somewhere, and why they’re taking the reader along with them.

On Revision steps back to take in the big picture, showing authors how to hear their own writing voice and how to reread their work as if they didn’t write it. On Revision will show you how to know when your writing is actually done—and, until it is, what you need to do to get it there.

208 pages | 1 halftones, 6 line drawings | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2

Chicago Guides to Writing, Editing, and Publishing

Library Science and Publishing: Publishing

Reference and Bibliography


"All writers are, or should be, re-writers, Germano insists, and rewriting begins with rereading, with “listening” to what your text wants to say. The advice compiled in this revelatory, generous book—tips on discovering or rediscovering your argument, on organizing its archive, on helping your readers identify its takeaways—will be useful for everyone from seasoned authors to dissertating graduate students.  Best of all, interspersed with the practical counsel, On Revision contains a moving vindication of the importance and the pleasure of scholarly writing and reading."

Deidre Lynch, author of Loving Literature: A Cultural History

"William Germano may be a terrible birder, as he tells us at the beginning of this book, but he’s certainly an excellent writer and teacher of the craft. On Revision is about the process of writing and its last steps, those of shaping a text and turning a manuscript into a well-argued and readable book it wants to be. With On Revision at your side, you will have a superb guide to gaining the skills and experience needed to finish your own project, all the while enjoying the elegance and wit of Germano’s prose."

Liliane Weissberg, Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor in Arts and Science, University of Pennsylvania

"On Revision is clear, compelling, vital. The book is a pleasure to read, and it reveals the pleasures in revising one’s writing. Germano has written a must read for all students, teachers, and writers."

Ayanna Thompson, Regents Professor, Arizona State University

"Facing the blank screen can be terrifying enough. Revising what you’ve finally managed to write, especially in response to the hard words of a good editor or the critical comments of reader reports, can be downright paralyzing. For those who’ve been there, or will soon be there, this book by one of the best editors and writers I know is a true gift. Equal parts practical, pastoral, and inspiring, it will be my go-to for many years to come."

Timothy Beal, Florence Harkness Professor of Religion, Case Western Reserve University

Table of Contents

1                      Press start                                                                                                       
2                      Good to better                                                                                                
3                      Know what you’ve got                                                                                  
4                      Look for an argument                                                                                    
5                      Build an architecture                                                                                      
6                      Remember the audience                                                                                
7                      What writing wants                                                                                       
A very short bibliography                                                                                                      

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