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The Art of Column Writing: Insider Secrets from Art Buchwald, Dave Barry, Arianna Huffington, Pete Hamill and Other Great Columnists [Paperback]

by Suzette Martinez Standring
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)

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Book Description

November 1, 2007 1933338261 978-1933338262
Featuring some of the most famous columnists in the business, this guide reveals the secrets to becoming a syndicated newspaper columnist, through both the author's own experiences and anecdotes from the respected writers who excel in their craft. From finding topics, to digging up information, and ultimately writing a column that makes people think, laugh, or cry, all the wisdom necessary to write opinion, humor, and insight columns is clearly presented in this in-depth manual.

Editorial Reviews


First Place in the Educational/Informational Book category for the 2008 Royal Palm Literary Awards, sponsored by the Florida Writers Association

"In today's complicated world, the art of storytelling is more important than ever. Suzette persuaded America's top columnists to show how they do their jobs. I wrote my first newspaper column more than 30 years ago, but I learned so much from reading this book."  —Dave Lieber, columnist, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

"Tackles the logistics of columns with the enthusiasm of a neophyte and the expertise of a veteran. From developing your voice to getting ideas to writing tight, Standring addresses everything a future columnist needs to now about what is the most exhilarating—and demanding—job in the news business."  —Tracey O'Shaughnessy, columnist, Republican-American

"I never thought anyone could write a book that would really teach someone else how to be a newspaper columnist. Boy, was I wrong. Suzette Martinez Standring has pulled it off—and with flair."  —Bill Tammeus, The Kansas City Star

About the Author

SUZETTE MARTINEZ STANDRING is a syndicated columnist with GateHouse News Service, whose twice-a-month Spiritual Life columns are featured in The Patriot Ledger (Mass.) She was voted Best Columnist by the readership of The Milton Times (Mass.) for her humor columns.

Suzette’s work has appeared in many publications, including The Boston Globe and Editor and Publisher, and has been featured on Boston’s National Public Radio station. She is a past president of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Marion Street Press, LLC (November 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933338261
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933338262
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #210,411 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitely the best book on the topic January 22, 2008
This book is a minor miracle - and the miracle is that Suzette Martinez Standring has compressed so much valuable information into a book that is not only useful, informative, and funny, but also at times deeply moving. How can anyone do that in a How-To format? Partly it's because she makes her points by quoting from some of the world's best columnists, showing us what they do and how they do it. When she shows us what to look for we can read from material by Dave Barry, Arianna Huffington, Art Buchwald, and others, and get a real sense of what makes a column work. These truly are `insider secrets' as she claims, and every one is to be prized beyond rubies.

Better yet is that Standring has interviewed all types of columnists and relays to us their wisdom about what it takes to write 500 words of thought-provoking writing several times a week. There's far more expertise in these pages than the slim look of this volume would at first suggest. I'd prize that beyond pearls, too.

Best of all is that Standring is not afraid to ask the difficult questions about what makes a person want to become a columnist in the first place, and what that might mean in terms of commitment if one chooses that path. It's that sort of question that most writers tend to skim over, since it's always easier to tell a reader how to do something (as in `How to Write a Detective Novel') than to engage with the deeper questions of why it might be an important life decision to take on that specific kind of writing. To do all this, and do it with humor? I'd prize that above everything.

Whether you want to discover how to write columns, to teach a class on how to write them, or just want to learn how to appreciate fully what columnists can tell us each day we read their words, this will be far and away the best book you could get hold of.

Dr Allan Hunter
Author of: Stories We Need to Know: Reading Your Life Path in Literature
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a Bible for Procrastinating Writers February 15, 2008
By maggie
As a columnist, it's embarrassing to tell you that I didn't know too much of what Suzette Standring reveals in this light volume. It has so much heavy information tamped down on each page, it's amazing her book doesn't plunge right through the table.

An easy, smiling read the first time; second time, get out your yellow highlighter.

That so many popular writers willingly contributed their secrets is a tribute to Ms. Standring's ability to ask the right questions. Her own secrets of successful column writing are simple: Velcro your butt to the chair; A fresh angle is a sharp foot in the door; and Assigned to cover county news was like being plunked into a pilot's seat and told "Land this thing!"

Many different writing styles are given, some by writers who use words that sashay across a page, some use words that slither or stride. Sandring's strut.

A must read for journalism students and homemakers who want to communicate on a larger scale than husband and kids. After all, Erma Bombeck had to start somewhere. Standring tells you how.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy this book if you want to be a columnist January 16, 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I am an author and syndicated columnist and thought I knew the business. Now that I have read The Art of Column Writing, I realize how little I did know.

I met Suzette when she served as President of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists and that position gave her the chance to interact with everyone in the field. She puts in it a concise and easy to read format.

If you are a veteran journalist or just getting started, you can learn from this book. I wish it had been published before I started writing and glad that it is on the market now.

Don McNay
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Three thumbs up! January 8, 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I had this book on pre-order and boy, was it worth the wait! Not only is it relentlessly instructive and comprehensive, it reads like fiction. Great information from amazing people -- I had it finished within 24 hours of receipt.

If you have an interest in writing of any sort, but most particularly columns, do yourself a favor and add this one to your bookshelf. No one is going to lend it to you because it is sure to become an dog-eared reference for anyone with an interest in the art!

Spark the wordsmith within and read this book!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read for All Who Enjoy Excellent Writing January 30, 2008
I am a novice at column writing, and this book inspires me and provides me with so much good advice and information. I had the distinct pleasure of meeting the author, Suzette Standring, and she not only is an amazingly great writer, but ditto as a person. She is my inspiration, and her book is well deserving of major kudos. Her columns are also well worth reading. She's a wonderful addition to the world of writing.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Gift For Any Writer January 26, 2008
A Gift For Any Writer January 26, 2008

A fellow writer highly recommended THE ART OF COLUMN WRITING. I put in on my Christmas wish list and what a gift it's been!
Filled with straightforward information on the structure and requirements of a column, Ms. Martinez-Standring also shares her wisdom and humor in dealing with all kinds of people. She offers advice from finding one's own voice to dealing with writer's block to working with an editior and everything in between. Although she had made a rapid ascent from novice writer to syndicated columnist in just the past decade, Ms. Martinez-Standring shares her insecurities and stumblings along the way. Her interviews with many highly respected columnists are both enlightening and informative.
The book reads quickly, flows smoothly and is just the shot in the arm an aspiring writer or uninspired veteran needs. It has already attained "top shelf" status in my bookcase and I'll be sure to pass it on to my peers.

Elle King (Edgartown, MA)
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Stuff
This is a great book for anyone interested in becoming a columnist. It will be the last one I will need to buy .
Published 4 months ago by R.Rivera
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must-Have on any Columnists' Bookshelf!
I was fortunate to have come across this book fairly early in my experience as a column writer. In Suzette I found a kindred spirit--one who, as she reveals in her introduction,... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Susan L. Mchugh
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Quite What I Expected
There are a lot of good tips in this book, but catching a syndicate's eye in the one out of thousands of submissions still remains elusive. Don't look for the magic bullet here.
Published 7 months ago by Bill Babbitt
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Help
I recently started writing a gardening column, and decided to purchase this book. Though I am certainly not at the level of the columnists discussed, I gained a better... Read more
Published 16 months ago by Sunbeam48
4.0 out of 5 stars Pretty good
This is a good starting place for learning about column-writing - she includes lots of good info, examples and advice.
Published 17 months ago by Uogio
5.0 out of 5 stars An 'Advice Book' That's Also a Great Read
This is an extraordinarily helpful, well-written, and entertaining book for anyone thinking of becoming a columnist, for anyone who's already a columnist, and for anyone who reads... Read more
Published 18 months ago by Dave Astor
5.0 out of 5 stars A joy ride into the world of column writing
In the "Art of Column Writing," Suzette Martinez Standring pairs her experience as a successful professional columnist with insights from some of the best in the business. Read more
Published 22 months ago by Mike Farley
5.0 out of 5 stars Writers of all skill levels would be wise to own this
If you're a writer and you have any interest in columns, this book will show you the way. Suzette discusses a broad range of topics from how to break in to the industry, insider... Read more
Published on September 20, 2011 by P. Hester
5.0 out of 5 stars A Most Educational and Helpful Read
Ms. Standring has a delightful way of presenting most useful information for aspiring and/or wanna be writers. Read more
Published on February 21, 2011 by June Ahern
5.0 out of 5 stars Bravo, Suzette!
With The Art of Column Writing, Suzette Martinez Standring has kicked a last second field goal to win the Super Bowl or, if you prefer baseball, hit a home run in the bottom of the... Read more
Published on May 27, 2009 by NHWordMan
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