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Tricks of the trade

What it takes to win the big prize

It wasn't just the stories that won the Pulitzer Prize in explanatory reporting for a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel series, "One in a billion: A boy's life, a medical mystery." Videos, photos, graphics and other online features also impressed judges, Poynter's Al Tompkins writes. Also, at Nieman Storyboard, a review of Pulitzer winners who took a narrative approach, including links to their work.

Ten, er, six rules for fine writing

Henry Gee started off strong — "Write every day" — in the Guardian's Punctuated Equilibrium blog. "I've found that the best writers have been writing all their lives ... Writing simply bursts out of them — they can't help it." Never mind that rule 7 was, "There is no rule 7," his goal was to inspire entrants in a new British science writing prize from The Wellcome Trust.

To link or not to link? It's not always clear

It's a question online writers sometimes struggle with, Robert Niles writes in the Online Journalism Review. Links in an online story help writers "source information, explain detail and provide depth in ways unique to the medium." But they also "clutter stories, and to distract and mislead readers away from the narrative of the piece." A University of Maryland study offers some supporting evidence and tips.

Why writers must swallow hard and sell themselves

Roy Peter Clark of the Poynter Institute presents the case for self-promotion, long anathema to many working journalists, but now a necessity in the era of declining big media brands. "Like everything else in the world of digital media, the old boundary between the writer and the promoter has been erased," Clark writes. "There is no chance that my bosses will pay to put my picture and name on a billboard or the side of a bus. It’s up to me."

The novelist's craft in non-fiction

Nonfiction writers can use the techniques of fiction to propel their stories and engage readers, says Adam Hochschild, a former editor of Mother Jones and author of several histories. Hochschild spoke at Vanderbilt University in February. Parts one and two of four parts are now available at the Nieman Storyboard, as is the entire one-hour video.

The crises in Japan in graphics

Three consecutive calamities — an earthquake, a tsunami, and a crippled nuclear power plant — have challenged journalists and especially news graphics specialists to turn chaos into clear, publishable information. From MediaBistro, here are several noteworthy efforts. Plus one more from The New York Times (hint: use the slider in the middle of each pair of photos).

Lessons from two kinds of science writing

Which of these sentences was written by a scientist, and which by a science writer? (1) "The varying distribution of fresh water across the globe, involving complex patterns of rainfall in space and time, crucially affects the ecosystems and infrastructure on which human societies depend." (2) "Climate change may be hitting home." What each form of writing can learn from the other, from the geology blog Highly Allochthonous.

Updated tips for self-publishing

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The Marketing & Publishing Resource — articles aimed at helping NASW member-authors benefit from the new era of e-books, social media, Web marketing, and self-publishing — has been updated with the latest information and links. Article summaries are visible here; viewing full articles requires a current NASW membership and web site password.