Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer

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One of America's most influential writing teachers offers a toolbox from which writers of all kinds can draw practical inspiration.

"Writing is a craft you can learn," says Roy Peter Clark. "You need tools, not rules." His book distills decades of experience into 50 tools that will help any writer become more fluent and effective.

WRITING TOOLS covers everything from the most basic ("Tool 5: Watch those adverbs") to the more complex ("Tool 34: Turn your notebook into a camera") and provides more than 200 examples from literature and journalism to illustrate the concepts. For students, aspiring novelists, and writers of memos, e-mails, PowerPoint presentations, and love letters, here are 50 indispensable, memorable, and usable tools.

"Pull out a favorite novel or short story, and read it with the guidance of Clark's ideas. . . . Readers will find new worlds in familiar places. And writers will be inspired to pick up their pens." -Boston Globe

"For all the aspiring writers out there-whether you're writing a novel or a technical report-a respected scholar pulls back the curtain on the art." -Atlanta Journal-Constitution

"This is a useful tool for writers at all levels of experience, and it's entertainingly written, with plenty of helpful examples." -Booklist

Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1st edition (January 10, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316014990
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316014991
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces

Customer Reviews

"Demystifying the act of writing."

244 people found this helpful.
 on January 4, 2007
By E. Bukowsky
Roy Peter Clark invites aspiring writers “to imagine the act of writing less as a special talent and more as a purposeful craft.” In his “Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer,” Clark urges the reader to “think of writing as carpentry, and consider this book your toolbox.” The goal is to take away the fright and nausea that accompanies writer’s block, and to make every writer more proficient at expressing himself.

Baking better prose

152 people found this helpful.
 on February 6, 2007
By A. Leary
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.

A new guide for an old craft

108 people found this helpful.
 on September 1, 2006
By Ron Franscell, Author of ‘Morgue: A Life in Death’
I am both a newspaperman and and an author. I have followed Roy Peter Clark’s teachings for many years, so when this book came along — comprising many of Clark’s extraordinary Poynter essays — I snapped it up, and am glad I did.


39 people found this helpful.
 on September 14, 2006
By Armchair Interviews
Roy Peter Clark’s Writing Tools is to authors and journalists what Home Depot is to construction workers. Clark gives writers a fully stocked shed of clear, concise tips, strategies and guidelines to instantly help improve anyone’s writing.

Very good, BUT…

30 people found this helpful.
 on July 2, 2008
By B. Miller
This book delivers. I’ve authored 4 books and learned much here that i wish i had known for the 4 of them! Great tips are spelled out simply and quickly (each chapter is a very quick read). The book is filled with examples both quoted and sometimes even placed (cleverly) within the text. Those times make the book fun to read–you can sense the authors wicked smile as he stuck those gems in.

What a delightful surprise this book is!

15 people found this helpful.
 on December 21, 2010
By Jeffery Cotton
Some of the reviewers on Amazon claim they feel “talked down to” by Roy Peter Clark’s Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer. But I sure don’t. In fact, the author uses examples from his own earlier writing to show how it could be improved by using the steps outlined in this book. That was a very refreshing approach, where how-to books are concerned.


20 people found this helpful.
 on March 28, 2010
By Caroline McMASTER
This book have given me a wealth of information. I will list some of the chapters and their contents in order for you to make a more informed decision about whether to buy this book.

"Must Have" for every writer

9 people found this helpful.
 on January 31, 2010
By Sheri Grimes
Clark’s is one of the easiest-to-read, most helpful instructive writing books I’ve read. He covers “nuts and bolts” as well as tools to improve the quality of writing and good writing habits to cultivate. He includes helpful excercises at the end of each chapter. With short, concise chapters and clear examples, he makes each concept easy to grasp and implement. Something you will refer back to over and over. Not an exhaustive reference, but a good basic guide, and great for people who have trouble wading through technical grammar references.

Engaging and exceptionally useful writing tips

4 people found this helpful.
 on January 19, 2015
By Michael Czajka Jnr
The podcasts of this book are brilliant… so buying the book is the next natural step.

Must Read

5 people found this helpful.
 on June 21, 2012
By Julie L. Brown
This book is essential reading for every beginning writer. Roy Clark provides the writer fifty tools with which to improve her craft. The chapters are short, informative, and funny and written in a style to illustrate a particular tool. He also provides brief exercises at the end of each chapter–not just writing, but cool exercises like observing people–to spur your thinking or to help increase your understanding.

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