Writing Advice That Transcends Genre

I consider reading books on writing to be part of my professional development, since I write for my job in addition to writing this blog and dabbling in fiction on the side.  The writing I do for work comes in different forms but usually covers marketing, industries, business, and strategy.  So you might think that writing a search engine optimized website, or an internal strategy document, or a whimsical narrative building a brand doesn’t have much to do with writing a book review on a blog, or writing a novel.

But the interesting thing about writing, I find, is that writing in different genres strengthens your writing across the board.  In Storycraft: The Complete Guide to Writing Narrative Nonfiction, Jack Hart offers writing advice specifically for the sort of narrative non-fiction pieces you read in newspapers and magazines, but his insights are so incredibly helpful that you could easily apply them to any genre you’re writing in.

Hart uses his background in journalism to describe how narrative works, and how to make it more effective.  Instead of offering dry advice, he illustrates his points with fascinating descriptions of news pieces he coached reporters through, describing how he and his team figured out they had a story, found points of view for the best telling, tracked down information, and wrote up the (usually prize winning) results.  He also includes a very helpful section on ethics.

If you’re not a writer, or not a journalist, you might still find a lot to like about Storycraft because of the interesting background on news stories.  If nothing else, having this kind of inside knowledge will change the way you read longer news articles and magazine features (in a good way, not in an “oh, so that’s how they make sausage” way).

And if you are a writer in one way or another?  In that case I particularly recommend Storycraft as a book that will help you to sharpen your skills.  While not much will be totally ground-breaking if you already read books to help your writing, often I find that reading information from a different perspective will help me to absorb and apply it differently.

Writers: Do you read books to help you improve in your craft?  If so, do you only read books intended for the genre in which you work, or do you read writing books for other styles and genres too?


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