Roy Peter Clark
Little, Brown and Company
DESCRIPTION: Everyone knows how to read, but only the gifted few can write. Plucking a golden idea from the aether, they work their literary alchemy to transform it into written words, via publisher or newspaper or Web site. It's not a skill, but a talent, the gift of the muse bestowed upon the lucky.
Without knowing how it's done, writing can seem like a conjuring trick, but in reality it's like any other skill. With the right tools and some experience, anyone can build their own book. Published journalist and author Roy Peter Clark gathers years of academic and practical experience, condensing them into 50 "tools" to help writers do what they really want to do: write.
REVIEW: The key to success is self-discipline, at least according to the little key chain I got in ninth grade. The key to self-discipline, I would say, is learning how to do what you want to do, then actually doing it; without knowing how, it's all too easy to let procrastination rob you of whatever self-discipline you may have. With his "toolbox," Clark offers a sound method for creating a story, be it a work of fiction or an informative newspaper article. The process itself remains much the same no matter what genre one wishes to pursue. The tools needn't all be applied to every single project, but by having them on hand, they make getting stuck that much less likely. They can also help figure out where one is spending too much time and effort, and where one isn't spending nearly enough of either. Each "tool" gets its own short section, with a series of exercises and questions at the end to drive home the point. A useful and practical guide, which I expect will be well-thumbed-through in years to come.