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writing tools

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Writing Tools by, Roy Peter Clark  i’m one of those lucky people who loves their job. most of the time, it doesnt feel like work. what i do is creative and, within reason, i’m given a lot of freedom to explore new ways of doing things. i spend a lot of time thinking of ways to improve on what it is i do, which happens to be book publicity. increasingly, my job, and most of the jobs that take place in an office, rely on the written word; every day i’m writing press releases and emails and every day someone is receiving those press releases and emails, along with hundreds of others, all vying for the same space. the way i see it, i have about a paragraph to capture someone’s attention so that paragraph better be good. in my case, i’m publicizing professional writers through people who also work with professional writers, and who might be professional writers as well. a daunting situation if you think about it. so, one must be just as good, if not better, than the professional writers.

this is why i decided to pick up Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer by Roy Peter Clark, the Vice President of Poynter Institute, a well-regarded school for journalists. many writing reference books can take on a self-helpy air so when i saw Roy’s credentials i knew he’d skip the fluff. he hasnt let me down yet.

Writing Tools is an amazing collection of useful writing tips and lessons on analysis. the book is split into four parts: Nuts and Bolts, where you get the rundown on basics such as grammar and sentence structure, Special Effects, which digs a bit deeper into how to liven up your work, the third section is Blueprints, which offers some thoughts on structure, and finally, Useful Habits, which, as the name implies, will help you form some good practices.

from that last section, i really liked Clark’s tips on how to read other people’s work:

  • read to listen to the voice of the writer.
  • read entire books when they compel you; but also taste bits of books.
  • read on topics outside your discipline. . .
  • read with a pen nearby. write in the margins. talk back to the author. . .
  • pg. 212

    at the end of every short chapter is something called a ‘workshop’, a collection of 4 or 5 assignments geared to help the reader implement the previous pages. from the same chapter on how to read other’s work, Clark says:

  • find an author to admire. read several works by this writer with a pen in hand. mark passages that work in special ways. show these to a friend and x-ray them together. what writing tools did you find?
    pg. 213

    Aside from this book being chock full of writing techniques that many of us who didnt go to school for English or writing have never before been privy to, Clark peppers his tips with some really great examples from fiction, essays, and news reporting. if you’re like me, always looking for more reading recommendations, you’ll be writing down names and titles every chapter.

    a must read for today’s writing-heavy generation of workers.

    other links:
    a recent review of Clark’s latest book, The Glamour of Grammar
    and a q&a on the Paper Cuts blog

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    Written by Gabrielle

    September 1, 2010 at 5:53 am

    Posted in books, grammar, reviews

    Tagged with , ,

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