Fabulous tools for writers

I’ve just finished reading the book ‘Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer’ by Roy Peter Clark.

It’s perhaps the best ‘toolkit-style’ book about writing that I’ve ever come across.

No ‘correctness’ discussions here. This book is all about how language works, and how to fine-tune the writing craft.

My favourite strategies come from the beginning of the book, in the nuts and bolts section. I particularly appreciated the discussions about adverbs (use with care and be sure to avoid redundancy), ‘ing’ endings (avoid when possible), and long sentences (fear not). There’s even a chapter where Clark demonstrates his own editing process.

I always read books about writing with a set of sticky flags in hand, ready to mark passages that I’d like to follow-up, re-think, or use in workshops. This book gets a record 33 flags, way ahead of anything else on my bookshelf (yes, this habit does make for an untidy bookshelf).

Clark uses many and varied examples to illustrate his points, and I really appreciated the way that his examples come both from fiction and the news. The examples he uses help to show the wide application of this ideas.

I’ve read another of Clark’s books this year, ‘The Glamour of Grammar’, and he’s gone right to the top of my favourite author list.