A Writer’s Coach: Learning How to be a Good Writer

June 12, 2007 at 3:08 pm 1 comment

Last week I had the privilege of hearing Jack Hart speak at a local PRSA luncheon about his latest book, “A Writer’s Coach.”

Jack Hart, managing editor at The Oregonian, has served as the newspaper’s writing coach and staff development director. His book is the culmination of more than 40 years in the industry working shoulder-to-shoulder with award-winning journalists.

The book is a step-by-step approach to the writing process and what good writers to do produce good writing. Here’s a quick rundown of the six steps of Hart’s writing process:

Step #1: Develop the idea. Understand the difference between a topic and an idea.

Step #2: Plan your reporting and organize your material. What you do before sitting at the computer directly impacts your writing. In other words: It’s obvious when a story is lacking research.

Step #3: Revisit your initial idea to discern a focus. Develop a simple theme statement (Subject-Predicate-Object) that encompasses what you want to say.

Step #4: Develop the story’s structure to convey a message. Take one manageable step at a time, line by line.

Step #5: Draft. Any problem you encounter while writing can be traced to the step before. For example, if you run into research roadblocks, your idea is probably weak.

Step #6: Polish and edit. Editing should be a collaborative effort between the writer and the editor. Read your story to anyone who’ll listen and work together to create seamless copy.

These steps transcend all communication industries from PR, to advertising, to broadcast journalism.

One more writing tip from Hart: “Get right to the main point.”

– Michelle Pera


Entry filed under: writing.

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Richard Laurence Baron  |  June 18, 2007 at 4:30 pm

    “Get right to the main point” ought to be at the top of Mr. Hart’s list, though I realize you’ve outlined his writing process step-wise. There’s a seventh step I offer for your consideration: “Practice. Practice. Practice.” Nevertheless, it is always useful to review someone else’s writing tips – especially when your part of the USA is so far away from my part of the USA.

    Running across your blog was serendipity. I thank you for some nice reading.

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