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

4.9 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1933338262
ISBN-10: 1933338261
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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.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Marion Street Press, LLC (November 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933338261
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933338262
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #753,008 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Allan G. Hunter on January 22, 2008
Format: Paperback
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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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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Format: Paperback
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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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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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, came into the art not by plan but by circumstance. That being the case for me, I thirsted for knowledge on the subject when I first started, and I quenched it here.

Ms. Standring begins with the key question. It's not, "How do I get published?" but rather, "How can I make my column good enough to be published?" These days particularly, when it comes to getting newspaper inches, you can't put lipstick on a pig. Right there at the beginning, you know she's going to hit the right issues.

The first part of her book covers the most important aspects of what makes a great newspaper column. These include:

* Having and projecting a strong, personal point of view.
* The importance of offering something fresh and different
* Having a distinct and unique voice
* The importance of a strong opening that draws readers in
* Organization--having a well-defined beginning, middle, and end.
* Brevity--how to make every word count.
* How to keep a well-stocked inventory of fresh ideas and avoid the dreaded writer's block.

She covers this not only from her own experience, but she also draws on the knowledge of other seasoned professional columnists.

Following that, Ms. Standring covers a few crucial orders of business such as optimal column length and how to work with editors. She also covers the importance of correcting your own work and not relying on the editors to do so.

In the second part of her book, Ms. Standring offers advice on specific types of columns, including humor, lifestyle, metro, op-ed, and religious.
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