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A Writer's Coach: The Complete Guide to Writing Strategies That Work Paperback

ISBN-13: 978-1400078691 ISBN-10: 1400078695 Edition: Reprint

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Frequently Bought Together

A Writer's Coach: The Complete Guide to Writing Strategies That Work + Storycraft: The Complete Guide to Writing Narrative Nonfiction (Chicago Guides to Writing, Editing, and Publishing) + Telling True Stories: A Nonfiction Writers' Guide from the Nieman Foundation at Harvard University
Price for all three: $37.21

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor; Reprint edition (August 14, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400078695
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400078691
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.3 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #429,893 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Good writing can dance, according to Jack Hart, "writing coach" and managing editor at The Oregonian. It has a rhythm "that pleases in its own right, creating cadences that give pleasure, regardless of content." This guide is intended to nudge insecure writers-especially those in the early stages of honing their craft-in the direction of their keyboards with practical tools for how to achieve clear, forceful and effective writing, no matter the subject. Hart's experience as a newspaperman is perhaps his greatest asset here; focused and clutter-free, chapters follow a logical learning sequence complete with one-word chapter titles ("Method" "Process" etc.) that get right to the point. His narrative tone is accessible and engaging, with anecdotes and advice from seasoned colleagues in the industry. Though positioned as a guide for tackling anything from a personal letter to a memoir, Hart's examples and terminology lean heavily on newspaper and feature writing, which may frustrate some creative types. That journalistic approach (which Hart freely admits to in the book's introduction), however, makes for an insightful, methodical approach to developing an idea into a story. Structured more like a textbook than a general professional development or trade title, this makes an ideal addition to the classroom.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Although Hart addresses his pithy writing guide to those working for newspapers and magazines, the managing editor of the Portland Oregonian offers such practical yet inspirational advice that both aspiring and longtime writers in any discipline would benefit from reading his book. He immediately strips away the mystique that often surrounds the writing process: "Great writing happens not through some dark art, but when method meets craft." He shoots down a litany of angst-ridden complaints, including writer's block and keyboard anxiety, with hard-nosed insight gleaned from years of working at a daily newspaper. Emphasizing that most of the work of writing comes in the thinking and information-gathering stages, Hart gives a finely detailed analysis of the steps needed to efficiently produce a finished piece. He also provides many excerpts from excellent writers illustrating the value of rhythm, color, and voice, and points out common pitfalls, such as spending too much time polishing the final draft instead of organizing the initial one. Best of all, Hart's writing is a model of the craft he so eloquently dissects. Joanne Wilkinson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Hart writes in a way that emulates the well spoken word.
Jerry Saperstein
My plan was to read only a few pages every night before bed, but this book is so good I've been staying up half the night reading it!
Hedwig of NC
The book speaks more to journalists and non-fiction writers.
Meryl K. Evans

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

56 of 57 people found the following review helpful By RRReader on November 28, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Writing coach Jack Hart just published the best book about the craft of writing since William Zinsser's classic "On Writing Well."

"A Writer's Coach: An Editor's Guide to Words that Work," comes at a good time. Bad books come out of printing houses, magazines disappear, and newspaper continue to commit slow suicide, writing about government infrastructure or "converting" to online under the theory that two-paragraph text information bursts are what readers desperately crave.

(Actually, what readers crave is video, a lot more video than writers or newspapers are giving them...but fundamentally, with that video, what they really want are STORIES).

Jack is a writer's editor who knows how to build great stories. Readers might want more video these days, but they have hungered for good stories since long before a blind Greek began to dictate the first chanting lines of the Iliad. The online world will figure this out, probably sooner rather than later, and when they do, the reading public will find good stories, video and text, all of them containing the same fundamentals that Homer used to create his masterpieces. There are 12 fundamentals, actually: Method, Process, Structure, Force, Brevity, Clarity, Rhythm, Humanity, Color, Voice, Mechanics, Mastery.

Those are Hart's 12 chapter headings in "Writer's Coach, but they were the 12 tools of Homer and Aeschylus and Shakespeare and Orson Welles and Steven Spielberg and any storyteller who's ever captivated an audience.
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Hedwig of NC on November 12, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Books on writing are often too general to be of any use. That's the reason I rarely recommend writing books. In fact, the only two books that I've recommended are McKee's "Story" and Franklin's "Writing for Story." But now I've added another to my list: Jack Hart's "A Writer's Coach."

Although aimed primarily at journalists (in the same way that, say, McKee is aimed at screenwriters), this book will be immensely useful to anyone who takes the writing craft seriously, no matter what they write. In fact, "A Writer's Coach" is an excellent companion to McKee and Franklin because it covers topics not covered by them. Hart's section on "color" alone is worth the price of the book (in it he explains the Ladder of Abstraction). But there are plenty of other useful topics/items as well, including the sections on endings, clarity, humanity, and the "Selected Resources for Writers" in the back.

The book is well organized and easy to read/navigate. I've worked as a freelance writer since 1999, but this book taught me a few things that I didn't know. My plan was to read only a few pages every night before bed, but this book is so good I've been staying up half the night reading it!

If you're a writer who is passionate about learning craft, buy this book.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Meryl K. Evans on September 26, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Books on writing often reiterate the same advice we learn over time, the reader sometimes lucks out in using a tidbit or two. Realistically, no one has time to study the advice and put it to practice. Thus, it's not a bad thing for a book on writing to cover the things we've read before. The more we read about it, the more it stinks in.

But you can't read A Writer's Coach in the same way you read any other writing book. This one goes deeper meaning a reader may absorb the information better by reading one chapter at a time to understand and practice the concepts. Coaching an athlete to improve at something doesn't happen overnight. Thus, this book targets the serious writer who needs to move beyond the basic books on writing in order to take writing to the next level.

I try to avoid writing general reviews that tell the reader nothing, but Hart is a master in explaining the concepts of method, process, structure, and everything else he covers. It's difficult to capture them into a little review when I try to avoid long reviews.

Business and life coaching grows more popular because they're effective in helping people change behavior and improve. In thinking about coaches, I reflected on my childhood years when I played sports. The best coaches point out the right way to swing a bat, serve a volleyball, or shoot a basket. They also help players review their weaker moves so they can fix their form rather than let them continue using bad form, which will hurt them in the end. "Coach" is a fitting word in the title because Hart takes the coaching approach in showing the writer the right form for taking an idea from start to finish.

The book speaks more to journalists and non-fiction writers.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Ginger Garrett, Author on March 23, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Of all the writing guides out there, this one stands out for its balance between passion, precision and technique. You'll find some real gems tucked nonchalantly into the most unassuming paragraphs. Most helpful are the check-lists at the end of every chapter.
As a novelist, I gleaned a lot of wisdom and encouragement from this book. If you want to build a library of master teaching, add to this Stephen King's On Writing, and Donald Maass' Writing the Break Out Novel. These three are spot on.
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