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How to Bring People Over to Your Side


Pub Date: June 11th, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-63149-305-8
Publisher: Liveright/Norton

From the former editor of the New York Times op-ed page, a book that is part memoir, part self-help, and part writing guide.

At its core, Hall’s text is about becoming a better listener, friend, partner, and citizen. Readers looking for tips on how to run the editorial gauntlet of the New York Times or other top national publications will find a few here. Unfortunately, some of the determining factors are beyond the fledgling writer’s control. As the author clearly shows, your work is more likely to be read by an editor if you are a celebrity, a writer with a following, or someone referred by a journalistic colleague. For those without such advantages who hope to rise above the slush pile, the advice is fairly routine: Focus your piece, write clearly and conversationally, tell stories, be specific, have a different perspective or experience, surprise the editor with your story, and delight her with the quality of your prose. Beyond such standard advice, the worth of Hall’s counsel extends well beyond writing, as she illuminates the types of attitudes and approaches that might make others more receptive or resistant and how crucial it is to find common bonds or frames of reference, to engage rather than antagonize. In these times of political polarization, she suggests that it’s still possible to find common ground and to talk to each other rather than shout past each other. This may not result in publishable opinion pieces or help you persuade anyone of anything, but it might make for a more civil, polite society. Near the end, the author offers a helpful section called “How to Write and Pitch an Op-Ed,” including the advice, “you need to offer an opinion, not just an analysis of the problem or applause for someone else’s solution.”

A lucid book about building bridges through communication along with some interesting behind-the-scenes background at the NYT.