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How to Write Short: Word Craft for Fast Times Hardcover – August 27, 2013
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--James Geary, author of The World in a Phrase: A Brief History of the Aphorism and I Is an Other: The Secret Life of Metaphor and How It Shapes the Way We See the World
"We're writing more than ever before, all of us, on screens big and small, and the pressure is on to make our characters count. In this book, Roy Peter Clark show us how, and more importantly, why it's worth the effort. How to Write Short is both a deeply practical guidebook and an annotated collection of concise gems from some of the world's greatest writers and journalists, not one of them longer than 300 words. Roy's message is clear: great writing is a matter of craft, not word count. How to Write Short will make you a better writer at any length."
--Robin Sloan, author of Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore
"How to Write Short both instructs and delights, in equal measure. On every page there is some useful advice and an amusing observation or illustration. Roy Peter Clark's many fans know that (extremely) diverse examples are one of his specialties, and this book doesn't disappoint. Open it up at random and you'll find quotes from Oscar Wilde, Steven Wright, Dorothy Parker, and Gypsy Rose Lee. And that's just one page! Read this book!"
--Ben Yagoda, author of When You Catch an Adjective, Kill It and How to Not Write Bad (forthcoming 2/2013)
"How to Write Short comes at the perfect time and enshrines Roy Peter Clark as America's best writing coach. Who else could masterfully tease the secrets of short, powerful writing from unexpected sources -- the Bible, Shakespeare, Tom Petty, and Abe Lincoln? This book should be on every serious writer's shelf." --Ben Montgomery, staff writer, Tampa Bay Times
"A fun, practical guide to writing little from a guy who's written a lot. Respected journalist and writing teacher Roy Peter Clark really knows his way around a sentence. Learn from him." --Christopher Johnson, author of Microstyle: The Art of Writing Little
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Top Customer Reviews
As Clark writes in the opening pages,"I've written HOW TO WRITE SHORT because I could not find another book quite like it and because in the digital age, short writing is king. We need more good short writing--the kind that makes us stop, read, and think--in an accelerating world. A time-starved culture bloated with information hungers for the lean, clean, simple, and direct. Such is our appetite for short writing that not only do our long stories seem long, but our short stories feel too long as well." (Page 4)
The short punchy chapters in this book are fun to read and loaded with insight. I learned a great deal in HOW TO WRITE SHORT. I recommend it.
Clark writes his advice in 35 short reflections organized into two sections: "How to Write Short" and "How to Write Short with a Purpose". He caps these sections off with an epilog: "A Few Final Words--441 to Be Exact".
Clark's first reflection focuses on getting you to open your eyes. In a world inundated with data in the form of writing, images, and sounds, what catches your attention? Coyly, Clark paraphrases the line from Sixth Sense. Not, "I see dead people", but "I see short writing"(15). Clark collects shorts like other people collect sidewalk pennies. In reviewing the sparse style of these shorts, he draws attention to the backstory that makes them interesting. Shorts sparkle because they remind you of something. A "grace note", Clark adds, increases the sparkle by reframing the sparkle in a new, interesting way. Or it may just offer a jolt (17-21).
I did not expect a writing book to be a page turner. I did not expect How to Write Short would get me to look at my long writing differently. I do expect that I will be referring back to this book in my book's next edit. Yeah!
This is an enlightening read. It's quick, it's easy to read and it really changes your outlook on 140 characters or less, and how that can affect writing in all forms. Writing short can actually enhance your ability to write long.
I loved it, from the perspective of someone who deals in Marketing and Blogging and social media all day, this book has been an invaluable tool. It has insight along with explanation, as well as support. Everything is condensed in this small little book. It doesn't force learning on you, but let's you come to the learning. In our modern society, the skill of writing short is so critical. You need to get a lot of big ideas into very small spaces.
The guides, the examples and the general wit of Roy Peter Clark makes this read more like a fiction book, then a writing guide. It's informative, but interesting, and it still gives you the little push to turn the page and see what's next. He efficiently sums up his points at the end of each chapter, giving you key points to remember.
Each chapter includes things to think about, things to try, and general observations about short writing. The clever ways it's used, the clever people who have used it, and the unusual places you can find some of the best short writing. This isn't meant to be a textbook, or even a style guide; this book is meant to help you learn the art of concise. We live in a world of short writing, this book just helps usher you into it with honors.
If you are a marketing person, blogger, tweeter, or basically any form of modern day writer, you need to check out this book. It's so informative without being overwhelming. You don't even realize the author is teaching you until it's too late and you've learned!
I got this book as an ARC from NetGalley for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
If you want to write short then read short writing. That sums this book up. The rest of this book got tedious. There was some good stuff about where to find short writing to read. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Bror Erickson
Roy Peter Clark puts his money where his mouth is by keeping How to Write Short brief – only 239 pages sans index and bibliography. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Jennifer Grey
People who talk too much should apply these communication tipsPublished 8 months ago by Jill C. Wojtalik
I want to improve how well I write. This book has been a guide, an education, and remained entertaining. Invaluable.Published 9 months ago by James
This book is packed with useful information, advice, tips, and activities to help you not only write short, but write strong and probably better. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Julie Ewald
Roy Peter Clark is an amazing teacher and writer. I use his writing tips constantly in the writing classes I teach. Read morePublished 9 months ago by hos5
Good advice for anyone looking to tighten up their writing.Published 10 months ago by PirateRoberts