The Tampa Bay Times Festival of Reading presents more than 50 authors, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 12 at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg. Roy Peter Clark will speak at noon in the Haiman Amphitheater at the Poynter Institute. Find more information here.
"My mission in this world is to learn something new about word craft every day, and to pass along writing tools to aspiring writers wherever I may find them," Roy Peter Clark says.
To that end, a decade ago Clark published a book called Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer. Having taught writing since 1979 to students of all ages and at all stages at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, which owns the Tampa Bay Times, Clark had gathered plenty of good advice.
Grouped into four categories — "Nuts and Bolts," "Special Effects," "Blueprints" and "Useful Habits" — the tools in the book cover everything from word order to narrative mode, with tips that include the all-important "Never forget to get the name of the dog."
Writing Tools turned out to be a book with staying power. Accessible, entertaining and practical, it became a resource for all kinds of writers. It went through multiple print editions and translations, and podcasts of the book have been downloaded more than a million times. In part because of its popularity, Clark became known as "America's Writing Coach."
Since the publication of Writing Tools, he has written four more books of advice for writers and readers: The Glamour of Grammar, Help! for Writers, How to Write Short and The Art of X-Ray Reading.
His publisher, Little, Brown, just released a 10th anniversary edition of Writing Tools — and now its subtitle is 55 Essential Strategies for Every Writer. Clark has added five new tools, including "Express your best thought in the shortest sentences" and "Create a mosaic of detail to reveal character."
In October, Clark announced that he'll retire from the Poynter Institute at the end of the year, although he'll still be involved in some projects there. The 10th anniversary edition of Writing Tools makes a fitting capstone to his career as a teacher, although he's still thinking like one.
"I once imagined a nation of writers," Clark says, "but Writing Tools is about to be translated into Chinese and Arabic. Why not imagine a world of writers?"