Tell It Like It Is: A Guide to Clear and Honest Writing (Hardcover)
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America's favorite writing coach and bestselling author returns with an "indispensable" guide (Diana K. Sugg, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter) to writing clearly and honestly in a world full of lies, propaganda, and misinformation.
The darker and more dystopian the future appears, the more influential public writers become. But with so much content vying for our attention, and so much misinformation and propaganda polluting public discourse, how can writers break through the noise to inform an increasingly busy, stressed, and overwhelmed audience?
In Tell It Like It Is, bestselling author, writing coach, and teacher Roy Peter Clark offers a succinct and practical guide to writing with clarity, honesty, and conviction. By analyzing stellar writing samples from a diverse collection of public writers, Clark highlights and explains the tools journalists, scientists, economists, fact-checkers, even storytellers use to engage, inform, and hook readers, and how best to deploy them in a variety of contexts. In doing so, he provides answers to some of the most pressing questions facing writers today:
- How do I make hard facts—about pandemics, wars, natural disasters, social justice—easy reading?
- How do I get readers to pay attention to what they need to know?
- How do I help contribute to a culture of writing that combats misinformation and propaganda?
- How do I instill hope into the hearts and minds of readers?
With Clark's trademark wit, insight, and compassion, Tell It Like It Is offers a uniquely practical and engaging guide to public writing in unprecedented times—and an urgently needed remedy for a dangerously confused world.
About the Author
Roy Peter Clark is senior scholar at the Poynter Institute, one of the most prestigious schools for journalists in the world. A writer who teaches and a teacher who writes, he has authored or edited twenty books on writing and journalism, including Writing Tools, Murder Your Darlings, and The Art of X‑Ray Reading.
“In a world with too much propaganda, confusion, and misinformation, Roy Peter Clark offers us a kind of North Star. His indispensable new book makes an urgent case for clarity, honesty, and conviction. Clark once again teaches us something crucial. We should all be aiming to write with purpose, for the public good. Now more than ever, we need this book.”—Diana K. Sugg, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, Baltimore Sun
“Roy Peter Clark is to clear writing what Windex® is to glass.”—Neil Brown, president of the Poynter Institute and co-chair of the Pulitzer Prize Board
"There is no antidote to confusion and misinformation more powerful than Tell It Like It Is. Anyone seeking to make their writing more straightforward, compelling, and memorable needs to read this book."—Sewell Chan, Editor in Chief of the Texas Tribune
“Roy Peter Clark shares a toolbox for achieving clear and honest communication that’s invaluable for anyone who is—or wants to be—a public writer.”—Colette Bancroft, copy desk chief and book critic, Tampa Bay Times
“Required reading. With engaging anecdotes and examples from across many disciplines, legendary writing coach Roy Peter Clark shows us how to perfect our craft for the common good. I’ll be handing this book out to all the writers in my life who need guidance and, more importantly, encouragement and inspiration.”—Tom Huang, assistant managing editor, Dallas Morning News
“If you write public words for the greater good (talks, articles, letters-to-the-editor, even covid-test instructions), this elegant and handy manual will help you understand your topic imaginatively and deeply, then cast it as an engaging human story, and finally, edit with dozens of Clark's sensible and dynamic writing tips. I’m hardly alone among authors who regard Roy Peter Clark as America’s foremost (and funniest) writing teacher.”—Mark Kramer, co-editor of Telling True Stories and Founder of the Nieman Program on Narrative Journalism at Harvard University
“With insight, wit, and generosity, Roy Peter Clark’s Tell It Like It Is gives us a fresh, necessary set of writing tools: essential tools for truth-telling we urgently need in the struggle against disinformation and demagoguery, and in defense of democratic self-rule and fact-based reality.”—Paul A. Kramer, Vanderbilt University
“There may be no more timely, thoughtful, useful and needed book in this age of disinformation and lying in public media than Tell It Like It Is. If you are eagerly awaiting advice and counsel on how to write your way out of the muck and mire that is our media public sphere, this is the book for you. Clark brings his experience, integrity, humor, and brilliance to bear in all aspects of his work as a writer and teacher. I hope this book gets on the shelf of every human being with a pen or a computer.”—Arthur L. Caplan, Mitty Professor of Bioethics, NYU Grossman School of Medicine
“Roy highlights how any of us—all of us—can be called to communicate with our fellow citizens through writing. With his signature, deft humor and inspiring observations, Roy offers a road map for upping your writing game that is actually fun to follow, while also making the case that clear public writing is a civic good that should be encouraged and applauded—particularly when it cuts through misinformation or willful disinformation. Best of all, Roy’s own sterling personal attributes—his patience, kindness, good nature and earnest desire to help anyone aspiring to get better as a writer—shine through on every page. Tell It Like It Is is insightful, entertaining and one of the best books on writing I have ever read—guaranteed to galvanize you into crafting sentences and stories before you’ve even put it down.”—Eric Deggans, TV Critic and Media Analyst, NPR
“Tell It Like It Is offers a valuable and timely perspective on writing, where it fits into career and life, and why it matters to communicate with both clarity and nuance.” —Katharine Gammon, Nieman Storyboard