I’m reviewing my library of hundreds of books of writing advice for top recommendations for your library. Here’s my take on essential works, IMHO, for writers. (Full list on a permanent page of this blog.)
I’ll tell why I think a particular book makes the top list.
Here’s the second (in no particular order) likely candidate:
A Writer’s Coach:
The Complete Guide to Writing Strategies that Work
by Jack Hart (2006)
[Note: the hardcover edition had a slightly different subtitle.]
To order from Amazon.com, click here.
Focus: Nonfiction (Journalism)
Audience: Writers at all levels
Why I’m recommending this: I learn something every time I pick up this amazing book.
Jack Hart is editor at large for The Oregonian and has coached writers for many years while mastering the craft himself. His book is a clear, well-organized set of great advice on how to craft the journalistic report or story (and by extension, many other forms of writing).
The Table of Contents shows the approach: Method, Process, Structure, Force, Brevity, Clarity, Rhythm, Humanity, Color, Voice, Mechanics, Mastery.
A reviewer on Amazon.com (Roy Wenzl, reporter from Wichita, KS), says:
What appears underneath those simple chapter headings is some of the best instruction anyone could have about how to become a skilled writer, and Jack does it by bringing clarity to the most complex ideas.
I love any list for what good writing needs that includes force, brevity, clarity, rhythm. Too many writers can produce run-of-the-mill work, but haven’t learned to elevate their work to the next level.
Jack Hart’s techniques will help you.
Best of all, he practices what he preaches. The book’s succinctness is wonderful.
For example, in just a dozen pages, in the Method chapter, his advice on finding Ideas is brilliantly outlined into precise, useful methods: from very structured brainstorming . . . to distinguishing topics from ideas . . . to finding the thematic focus of your piece.
Or check out his brief explanation of types of “Report Leads” (Summary, Blind, Wraps, Shirttail) . . . or “Feature & Story Leads” (7 types) . . . or “Dangerous Leads” (dangerous for the writer!) . . . and “Loser Leads.”
This is one of the least-fluff, most bang-for-the-buck book on writing I have on my bookshelf. I’ll second the quote on the book’s front cover by Susan Orlean, author of The Orchid Thief:
Wise, practical, and smart, A WRITER’S COACH is an exceptional book, offering advice with good humor and great insight.
Did I make it clear I love this book? It’s definitely one of the best books on craft for nonfiction writers. Get it. You’ll read it many times . . . and enjoy it each time.