In Dear Viola (addressed to a mythical student), Bill Bridges captures in 100 pages the main things you need to know to be a successful reporter, writer, or editor. The book draws on 25 years of advising a prize-winning college newspaper, and includes sparkling words by students, and a few words they’d rather forget. “The valley will soon be flooded when a nearby river is damned,” wrote one. Adviser’s comment: “Not enough copyediting here, by a dam site.”


A lot of what one does in life involves writing—press releases, news stories, scripts, e-mail, love letters. “If we wanted someone to be charming” a PR director told me, “we’d hire the switchboard operator downstairs. What we do up here is write.”. . . If you can command words, you can command other things in your life. Not many people can write even simple, serviceable English. If you can, the world is yours.

Others say:

Dear Viola is written with all the wit you’d expect from an urbane newspaper editor, with all the wisdom you’d expect from a veteran journalism professor, with all the street-smart savvy you’d expect from a metro beat reporter, and with all the clarity and simplicity you’d demand of a good writer.”
—Ray Begovich, Alta Villa Publishing

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