Mitte Oktober erscheinen im Autorenhaus Verlag die "50 Werkzeuge für gutes Schreiben" des berühmten amerikanischen Journalisten-Lehrers Roy Peter Clark. Das Handbuch beruht auf einer Liste, die Clark für das Poynter-Institute entwarf - eine der großen amerikanischen Journalistenschulen, deren Vizepräsident er ist. Der erste Werkzeugkasten fiel mit 20 Hinweisen noch vergleichsweise schlank aus; über die Jahre hat Clark seine Liste aber stetig erweitert und verfeinert. Als Vorgeschmack veröffentlicht das Reporter-Forum 30 prägnante Kurz-Tipps von Clark - und verlinkt einen Podcast des Autors, der die Techniken weiter erläutert.
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. A writer or coaching editor can borrow a writing tool at any time. And here’s a secret: Unlike hammers and chisels, writing tools never have to be returned. They can be passed on to another journalist without losing them.
Below is a list of 30 writing and revising tools. We have borrowed them from reporters and editors, from authors of books on writing, and from teachers and coaches. Many come from reading the work of storytellers we admire. The brief descriptions should be enough to help you build your own tool collection.
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 the subject and verb make meaning clear early.
2. Use verbs in their strongest form, the simple present or past. Strong verbs create action, save words, and reveal the players.
3. Beware of adverbs. Too often, they dilute the meaning of the verb or repeat it: "The building was completely destroyed."
4. 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 says "look at me."
5. Observe "word territory." That is, give key words their own space. Do not repeat an emphatic word unless you intend a specific effect.
6. Play with words, even in serious stories. Choose common words that rarely appear in news reports.
7. Dig for the concrete and specific: the name of the dog and the brand of the beer. Details help readers see the story.
8. Rather than settle for clichés, seek original images. Make word lists, free-associate, be surprised by language.
9. Prefer the simple over the technical: shorter words and paragraphs at the points of greatest complexity.
10. Recognize the mythic, symbolic, and poetic. Be aware that common themes of news writing (homecoming, conquering obstacles, loss, and restoration) have deep roots in the culture of storytelling.
11. When the news or topic is most serious, understate. When the topic is least serious, exaggerate.
12. For clarity, slow the pace of information. Short sentences make the reader move slowly. Time to think. Time to learn.
13. Control the pace of the story by varying sentence length. Long sentences create a flow that carries the reader down a stream of understanding, an effect that Don Fry calls "steady advance." Or slam on the brakes.