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Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer Paperback – 7 Feb 2008

4.9 out of 5 stars 37 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Little Brown Book Group; Reprint edition (7 Feb. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316014990
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316014991
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.9 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 27,971 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

'Wrtiers will be inspired'

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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Format: Paperback
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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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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
So many writing tips books out there. It's a minefield. But this one I found really useful. I was in the middle of (struggling) to write a chapter in a technical (medical) subject and needed some inspiration/help. This book provided that. You might think these writing tools are for non-fiction writer, but many of the 'strategies' can be applied for non-fiction. I don't know if there are similar books out there, but this one is definitely worth the investment.
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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Kindle Edition
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. Most books of this ilk deal with either plot or characterisation or sometimes even the mechanics of writing--whereas Writing Tools covers almost everything. Although it appears to be aimed towards journalistic writing rather than novels or scripts, there's a clear overlap of ideas and techniques, which can be beneficial for both authors and journalists alike.

Broken up into fifty sections, each chapter focuses on a different aspect of writing: from structure to procrastination to internal cliff-hangers--using, for the most part, examples from previously published works (primarily other journalists, but also novelists and poets) to solidify, explain or elaborate on his point. And although the chapters are quite short--probably about seven or eight pages each--the book never feels stingy on information, and Roy Peter Clark delves into each subject thoroughly and with an apparent wealth of knowledge and experience.

In essence, it's not just a quick how-to guide, but it's more of a lesson; a long, informative, insightful lesson, with an engaging, clear-minded teacher.

Whether you're a journalist, a short story writer, a novelist, or a screenwriter, I highly recommend this book. It has a little something for everybody.
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