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Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer [Hardcover]

Roy Peter Clark
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)

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Book Description

2 Nov 2006
'Tools Not Rules' says Roy Peter Clark, vice president and senior scholar at the Poynter Institute, the esteemed school for journalists and teachers of journalists. Clark believes that everyone can write well with the help of a handful of useful tools that he has developed over decades of writing and teaching. If you 'google' Roy Peter Clark, Writing Tools', you'll get an astonishing 1.25 million hits. That's because journalists everywhere rely on his tips to help them write well every day - in fact he fields emails from around the world from grateful writers. 'Writing Tools' covers everything from the basics (Tool 5: Watch those Adverbs) to the more complex (Tool 34: Turn your notebook into a camera) and uses more than 300 examples from literature and journalism to illustrate the concepts. For students, aspiring novelists and writers of memos, emails, PowerPoint presentations and love letters, here are 50 indispensible, memorable and usable tools.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown & Company; First Edition edition (2 Nov 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316014982
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316014984
  • Product Dimensions: 21.8 x 14.8 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 145,706 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


'Wrtiers will be inspired' --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

Tools Not Rules': here are 50 essential ones that writers of all kinds can use every day.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How Reading and Writing Work 10 Jun 2011
By John M. Ford TOP 500 REVIEWER
Roy Peter Clark lays out 50 of his writing tools and invites us to borrow them for our own writing toolboxes. Each writing tool is presented in a brief chapter that explains the strategy, offers examples, and ends with practice exercises. Clark reminds us that these are tools, not rules. We should work with a few of them at a time to improve our written work and our writing process. The 50 tools are grouped into four sections.

In "Nuts and Bolts," Clark covers writing basics. There are no tedious specifications for comma placement or hyphenation. Instead there are effective techniques for using language "at the word, sentence and paragraph levels." These ten tools include "Establish a pattern, then give it a twist," which shows how repetition can set the reader's expectations. And how occasionally breaking the pattern highlights information and maintains interest. Another chapter, "Cut big, then small" discusses the painful task of revising by removing. Snip and cry, but snip.

"Part Two: Special Effects" demonstrates techniques of "economy, clarity, originality, and persuasion." The thirteen tips in this section include "Set the pace with sentence length" which shows how to influence the psychological "speed" at which a reader moves through text. "Get the name of the dog" emphasizes collecting concrete details as we do research. They allow us to move down the ladder of abstraction and bring life to descriptive writing.

In Part Three: Blueprints," Clark advocates organizing our writing process as well as our documents. Two of the best tools among these sixteen show how to encourage--and manage --readers' progress. "To generate suspense, use internal cliffhangers" and whet the reading appetite with not-yet-complete information.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five stars after just one chapter! 13 Sep 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I've only read one chapter of this so far but the rest of the whole book could be a complete pile of pants and it would still deserve 5* for what I've already learned, so I'm not waiting, I'm writing my review now!

I've read a lot of books about writing and have found that a lot of them repeat the same material, with maybe a few nuggets that aren't in the others. This one was straight out the gate with something that has had me thinking about it non-stop since I read it and I don't want to continue with the book until I've really examined it. It's Tool 1: "Begin sentences with subjects and verbs" and it explains how strong sentences start with the main subject and its verb at or near the beginning of the sentence, like I have in this review ("I've", "I've", "This one was", "It's"). Once you start looking at that in other people's writing and analysing your own, it's an eye-opener. To me, it was worth the price of the book just for that. Can't wait to read the rest (but I'll have to, I'm still thinking about the first chapter!).

UODATE: I'm on Chapter/Tool 11 after a couple of weeks now and I'm still delighted with this book. So many interesting things, and a whole stage up from other books on writing. It's refreshing to read something that feels a bit more advanced and it's also a very easy read. Very highly recommended.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I love this! 23 Aug 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is written with any writer in mind. It is not dictating what you have to do in order to write successfully, but it suggests ways of exploring wwords, phrases and your writing as a whole. It encourages you to think about the smallest thing not just the bigger picture because within that bigger picture are so many wonderful words and tools you can use to heighten the experience for the reader.
He provides so many examples from literature and even little excercises to try out so you can see the 'tool' in action. I highly recommend this to any writer who is doubting their work. You'll realise that a lot of these you do automatically and that will give you a boost. It will also make you think about things you never have before and once you've read that 'tool' you'll start noticing examples of it when you're reading and writing yourself. And it gives you greater clarity to understand your own writing as well as that of others.
It was recommended to me and I recommend it to you. See what tools can help you improve your writing and your confidence to know you are on the right lines. Awesome book!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant 1 Feb 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
For any aspiring writer this has all the tips and tools you need. if we had all this in our heads we would be filling the world with brilliant writing.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent advice 11 Feb 2012
I read this book from cover to cover when I first got it - because it's so well written. I still refer to it often. If you want to improve your written style, this gives you both a mechanics and philosophy for how to do so.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy this first!!!! 11 Jan 2012
By Liv
I have several books on creative writing and editing, and although all are good, this outshines the others. Buy this first. It is well written, clear and very informative. A really good read.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb tool for writers 5 Feb 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I came to this book via Roy's audio programmes on iTunes U (which are also excellent, and free to download). I had never heard of him before, but was so impressed by the extracts that I bought the book - which is even better. Very accessible, yet not at all superficial, each tool is illustrated by hit-the-mark examples. A practical guide that will improve any writer's work, at any level or genre - I know it has improved mine. Highly recommended.

This review is by David Williams writerinthenorth
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent for those who need to make sure their writing ...
clear, concise and very practical guide. It makes a dry subject engaging and is very practically focused. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Sally
5.0 out of 5 stars 50 brilliant nuggets
I really enjoyed this and it inspired me to do some more writing. I've passed it on to our English dept at school as I'm sure they can make use of the tips (and the examples from... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Simon
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent!
A practical, accessible, thorough guide to the craft of writing. I teach English and was already using ideas from Clark before I'd finished his book.
Published 5 months ago by serginhowardinho
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent resource
What's to say? Much that's new to me, the stuff that I sort-of knew already presented with greater clarity. A good buy.
Published 7 months ago by Mary Carroll
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant set of tools and techniques
I can't put this book down. Each chapter--or tool--is short and to the point, giving useful examples and then exercises to try out each tool. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Christopher Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars Fab book
Brilliant for those studying writing like me. Many tools and exercises to enhance your writing. I keep it close by for reference. BUY IT!!
Published 9 months ago by J. Seye
5.0 out of 5 stars Every novelist should buy this.
Read this before writing your next novel.

This book has been indispensable to me.

Great ideas for improving your writing.
Published 9 months ago by Gino
5.0 out of 5 stars 50 Tools That Every Writer Should Know
I've read numerous writing manuals and how-to guides over the years, but this is by far the most comprehensive (and useful) I've come across. Read more
Published 10 months ago by George Kelly
5.0 out of 5 stars to write or not to write
great book, but will need to think carefully about trying to use it to its full potential, I could be famous one day!!!!!!!!!
Published 10 months ago by mr jam
5.0 out of 5 stars Full marks from me too.
I am only too happy to add to the run of five stars here. I cannot add much more to the comments below but I will say that this has been very useful addition to my library. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Matteo_B
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