Friday, May 28, 2010

Point your mouse to Poynter... and to Roy Peter Clark

Poynter claims it has "everything you need to be a better journalist". I believe it.

There are many things on the site that will be useful to you if you're looking to improve your writing and hone your journalistic skills. There are great tips for those interested in television too.

Poynter is also home to Roy Peter Clark, whose Writing Tools blog is, quite simply, superb. Here, for instance, are his tips for structuring your sentences and paragraphs:

Sentences and Paragraphs

  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 subject and verb make meaning early.
  2. Use verbs in their strongest form, the simple present or past tense. Strong verbs create action, save words, and reveal the players. Beware of adverbs. Too often, they dilute the meaning of the verb or repeat it: "The building was completely destroyed."
  3. Place strong words at the beginning of sentences and paragraphs, and at the end. The period acts as a stop sign. Any word next to the period plays jazz. 
Read the full post — If I Were a Carpenter: The Tools of the Writerhere. And make sure you keep going back to Roy Peter Clark and Writing Tools.

Clark is also the author of Three Little Words, which he wrote as a multi-part series for The St Petersburg Times in 1996. This is how the newspaper introduces Three Little Words on its website:
Author Roy Peter Clark worked for two years to piece together this intensely personal family history. The story, which unfolded here and on the pages of the St. Petersburg Times over 29 days, challenges us to reconsider our thoughts about marriage, privacy, public health and sexual identity.

It is a touching story about a journey of trust, betrayal, and redemption. Make time to read it. You will marvel at the writing style — this is what journalism is about. Read it here: "Three Little Words".
  • Photo courtesy: Poynter 
UPDATE (June 15, 2013)
An e-mail from Roy Peter Clark
that I will always treasure:

From: Roy Peter Clark <>
Date: Sat, Jun 15, 2013 at 12:13 AM
To: Ramesh Prabhu <>

Ramesh, thank you for your kind thoughts and your generous words.  I'm delighted that "Writing Tools" is working for you and your students.  And cheers to you on your own devotion to the craft.  -- Roy

Roy Peter Clark
Vice President and Senior Scholar
The Poynter Institute
801 Third Street South
St. Petersburg, Florida 33701
office:  727-553-4227

author of:
 "The Glamour of Grammar:  A Guide to the Mystery and Magic of Practical English"
 "Writing Tools:  50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer."

  • Both the books mentioned above have been placed in the Commits library for the benefit of our students.


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