Roy Peter Clark
Writing will make you a better person, though most persons will neglect it. Stigma prevents them: writing is too difficult, writing is too artistic, I am not a writer. Writing, however, is less art than craft. And like all crafts, it has tools that can be mastered.
Writing Tools’ counsels, compels, and reforms the non-writer. “I am not a writer” is a lie. It was insinuated by your English teachers when they confused writing with art and fostered it in a group of “talented” students. Of which you were excluded. That decades-old lie persists—don’t let it. Because writing will make you a better person, and better people are something our world needs.
These motivations usher a number of tools—fifty-five, in fact—that span practical grammar, style, storytelling, even helpful writing habits.
Clark uses multiple tactics to teach every tool. He explains its use, demonstrates it with literary examples, and solidifies it with four or five tasks for the reader’s practice. Each tool adds value to your writing craft. Mastering and using them will make you a writer and a better person.
Each new “how to write” book I read reminds of two points. Authors say things in different ways. Two teach the same rule, but one connects with you in ways that make the rule memorable. Second, seemingly similar books will cover different ground. The topical overlap for many “how to write” books might be substantial, but not complete. Each book has new things to offer.
Clark connects with me through his casual wit, particularly when he demonstrates a concept using the books actual wording. Short sentences slow reading down. Slower text grabs the reader. It catches their eye. They pay more attention. “I’m doing it now,” Clark writes--in case the reader hasn’t noticed.
Besides connecting with me better than most, Clark’s writing book also offers unique insights. Short sentences slow reading down, but to what end? He offers three: to explain something complex, to create suspense, to draw attention to emotional truth. Express therefore your best thought in your shortest sentence. Place it by longer sentences for extra emphasis. Details like these make Writing Tools a valuable piece of your “how to write” reference library.
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