Friday, May 18, 2012

From the Writer's Toolbox: Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer

I acquired the book Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer, by Roy Peter Clark, as a gift from a member of 1st Writes. And what a power–packed book this is!

As Amazon’s description shares, “One of America's most influential writing teachers offers a toolbox from which writers of all kinds can draw practical inspiration. [Clark’s] book distills decades of experience into 50 tools that will help any writer become more fluent and effective.

Writing Tools covers the most basic (Tool 5: Get the name of the dog.) to the more complex (Tool 23: Tune your voice.) with hundreds of illustrations from literature and journalism. Bloggers, novelists, students and writers of articles, memos, e-mails, PowerPoint presentations, and love letters, will all benefit from Clark’s 50 indispensable, memorable, and usable tools.

One of my own personal favorites is Tool 10, “Cut big, then small. Prune the big limbs, then shake out the dead leaves.” Good advice!

Available at Amazon in both print and Kindle form, Writing Tools is a quick read, with short, pointed chapters to digest.

If you own a copy of this book, what is your favorite tool?

Pam Williams


  1. Very creative names the author has given each tool.

    1. Yes! Many of them served as a "hook" and drew me right into the chapter.

  2. Me, too. I can visualize the concept that way.

  3. I have this book in my "to read" pile, but haven't cracked it open yet. Now I am looking forward to it. Thanks for the review and "thumbs up" and have a wonderful time at the conference!

    1. The workshop with Joyce Magnin was so encouraging. And Dawn, Brianna and I had a great time at the B & B--talked till nearly midnight!

  4. Pam,
    As you know, I also have this book (wink). One of the tools I like is Tool 27: Reveal traits of character (Show character-istics through scenes, details, and dialogue). The main gist of this one is to show, not tell.

    I am seeing the benefit of this one first hand as I revise my novel. An added benefit of "showing" is that it makes the reader "discover" the character for himself. No one is "telling" him what to think.

    TELLING -- She was a whirlwind of a girl.

    SHOWING -- Frannie burst into the kitchen, leaving the screen door wide open. Her little white-heeled sandals clomped on the linoleum as she ran through, slamming her books on the counter. One book teetered on the edge before falling to the ground. Frannie neither saw nor heard it. She was already gone.

    Which version do you like better and why?

  5. Sounds like a helpful book. I don't have it, but the pruning tip seems like an awesome one. I need to remember that in my editing.