Customer Review

103 of 105 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Baking better prose, February 6, 2007
This review is from: Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer (Hardcover)
Maybe the best way for me to describe Roy Clark's Writing Tools 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer is to use the following analogy: I can bake good brownies. Not the world's best brownies, but they get the job done - brownie-wise, that is. I'd like to make better brownies, but I'm not sure what I should do differently. Better cocoa? Smaller pan? More butter? I never know what to change, so I just keep making the same mediocre brownies. The same applies to my writing. I know it could be better - I just can't figure out how to change it.

Enter Mr. Clark's wise and wonderful book, Writing Tools 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer, and suddenly I've got a myriad of new ideas! Clark gives struggling and aspiring writers a neatly organized "toolbox" full of models, practices, examples, and "what-not-to-dos." Conveniently arranged into four sections, each portion of the book addresses different spheres of writing. The first, "Nuts and Bolts" concentrates on the building blocks of writing - the words, sentences and paragraphs. I found there to be an arithmetic quality to this first section, almost as if Clark was imparting the equations and theorems of good writing.

Toolbox number two, "Special Effects," delves into the less concrete world of how we use language. He identifies it as "tools of economy, clarity, originality and persuasion." In this section he explores all of the tools, or devices a writer can use to help the writer shape his or her authentic voice.

"Blueprints," the title of the third toolbox discusses the structure of stories and reports. If a writer intends to take his readers on a path of discovery, enlightenment and wonder then the writer must be able to construct a trail that is enticing, engaging and well-lit. The tools of this third section discuss different kinds of narratives, foreshadowing and the dreaded "outline."

The final section, "Useful Habits" is generous and supportive therapy for the would-be writer. With sage and gentle advice, Clarke reassures us that we are not alone in our bad habits, urges us to learn from our critics and challenges us to "own the tools of our craft."

A special note: Don't miss either the afterword or the dedication. And if you don't know who Donald Murray was, find out. It can only help your writing.
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Initial post: Jan 31, 2010 9:14:26 PM PST
Chad Ellison says:
Excellent review! I loved the analogy about cooking brownies. It helped me to understand the purpose of the book. If that little gem you threw down was something you gleaned from this book, even better! Sold! I'm getting the book. :)
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