Jun 232005

In Fifty (50!) Tools which can help you in Writing, Roy Peter Clark from the Poynter Institute gives 50 tools to help you improve your writing.

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.


  • Tool #1: Begin sentences with subjects and verbs, letting subordinate elements branch off to the right. Even a very long sentence can be clear and powerful when the subject and verb make meaning early.
  • Tool #2:Use verbs in their strongest form, the simple present or past. Strong verbs create action, save words, and reveal the players.

Go read all 50 Writing Rules

  3 Responses to “Fifty Tools Which Can Help You in Writing”

  1. This is a great list! If I were teaching writing again I would certainly borrow from some of his clear explanations and examples. He even has ways to practice each rule at the end.

    Writing is one of those things that even the best can always improve — how much more we laymen!

  2. Yes, I thought it looked pretty good. I wonder about putting up one rule per week and trying to ‘improve’ that one area.

  3. That’s a good idea. I’ve found it helps immensely to, when you write, consciously think about the words you’re choosing and how you’re putting them together, not only on the actual content. From 3 years now of grading papers wherein I require the students to use different “openers, different style techniques, and strong, precise vocabulary, I’m now trained to see those things (or the lack thereof) when I read anything…but it’s still much trickier to see them or their absense when I’m the writer and not the reader — quality writing takes deliberate effort and multiple revisions, always. :)

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