Read Part 1 of the review of Writing Tools: 50 essential strategies for every writer, if you haven’t already.
Phrases like nut paragraph and broken line give you a tool that you may have used but weren’t conscious of. By naming the tools, Clark teaches the writer to be more aware of why some writing is better than others. By far, this is the only book that has so much clarity when it comes to specifying what an author can do right to improve her writing. Books like Bird by Bird and Writing Down the Bones give strength, but this book gives method.
In the second part of the book, he talks about the blueprints and habits we need to write effectively.
An interesting tool is using your notebook like a camera. A journalist unconsciously uses the aerial view to express a kind of omniscient narrator stand. He comes close up to show you all the dirt and grime of the slums and the flies that crawl over the faces of starving children. When you write you have to keep moving your camera around, experiment with it and become one of those maniacal smartphone photographers who spend a lot of time observing the world through the lens.
Scenes have to be recreated and a good writer uses her power of observation to create reality from a mass of collaged circumstances. Sequence or the building up of ideas is an essential part of the craft of writing. Closure is important too. J.K. Rowling knew how her books would end.
Some good writing habits Clark advises us to have include writing about your writing process. This is something new- so if you have a story you have to deliver, write down how you are going to write it, who it is intended for and the kind of effect you need to create.
You need to compost ideas, save them in shoe boxes and folders.
As for completing projects, you need to break long projects into shorter ones. Reading the TOC helps.
Writing is a group activity. In this era of self-publishing, Clark’s advice to understand all facets of publication including editing and design is timely. He calls writing a dance. Workshops are good, editors are angels, and designers help the books sell. You need them all and the critics you love to hate are always better than that internal critic who stops you from creating the first draft sooner.
Although I’ve written at great length about these tools, I wouldn’t say there are too many spoilers. Clark uses some fantastic passages from great authors, uses concrete examples and gives meticulous homework, none of which I have given away in enough detail. Buy a copy of this book.
It will help you write better.