Ernest Hemingway said, “There is no rule on how to write. Sometimes it comes easily and perfectly; sometimes it’s like drilling rock and then blasting it out with charges.” Enter Language Power, a hefty volume that attempts to capture the thinking that goes into effective writing.
Author Byron Renz starts with the most basic element: the word, as communicated by “emails, texts and tweets,” working his way up through sentences, paragraphs and finally documents. He organizes the book into a three-stage learning process: theory/principles (how words are broken down into basic components to construct a message), technique (practices to either inform or persuade) and practical application (applying language to common forms of business communication).
The latter portion contains the most useful information: examples of letters, business plans, grant applications and, especially, resumes. Chapter 9 discusses the differences between standard resumes and curriculum vitae (CV) and the circumstances where each is best used, also offering suggestions on how to most effectively describe one’s experiences to emphasize marketable skills.
Such information is helpful, but unfortunately does not justify a 500+ page book. Most of what Renz conveys is deeply buried in passive voice and excessive explanation and pontification. For example, in Chapter 7 on persuasion, a discussion of Monroe’s Motivated Sequence (a five-step technique designed to induce an audience to a specific action) is so confusing that the connection between effective writing as a means to inspire people is completely lost. Chapter 6 – also on persuasion— provides a one-sided argument in support of the Affordable Care Act. As anyone who has ever tried to sway others knows, understanding all the facts, including the opposition’s thinking, is essential to creating an effective argument.
In sum, while there are nuggets of information here that will prove useful to readers, other books have tackled the subject much more effectively and succinctly. Readers would do far better to read (or re-read) Hemingway and take it from there.
Also available as an ebook.