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Poynter Online - Fifty Writing Tools

At times, it helps to think of writing as carpentry. That way, writers and editors can work from a plan and use tools stored on their workbench. You can borrow a writing tool at any time. And here's a secret: Unlike hammers, chisels, and rakes, writing tools never have to be returned. They can be cleaned, sharpened, and passed on. Each week, for the next 50, I will describe a writing tool that has been useful to me. I have borrowed these tools from writers and editors, from authors of books on writing, and from teachers and writing coaches. Many come from the X-ray reading of texts I admire. I have described most of these tools in earlier lists, first of 20 and then 30. In those renditions, I defined each tool in shorthand, 50 words or less, without elaboration or exemplification. In spite of -- perhaps because of -- their brevity, many aspiring writers found them useful, and the tools popped up all over the Internet, translated into several languages. This warm acceptance has given me the courage to do more with these tools, to hone them, to discard some rusty ones, and to add to my collection. RELATED RESOURCES Writing Tool #1By Roy Peter ClarkBegin sentences with subjects and verbs, letting subordinate elements branch to the right. Even a long, long sentence can be clear and powerful when the subject and verb make meaning early. >>Read more As you study and discuss these, please remember: These are tools and not rules. They work outside the realm of right and wrong, and inside the world of cause and effect. You will find many examples of good writing that seem to "violate" the general advice described here. It will not help to apply these tools at once, just as aspiring golfers swing and miss if they try to remember the 30 or so different elements of an effective golf swing. You will become handy with these tools over time.You will begin to recognize their use in the stories you read.

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