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Several Short Sentences About Writing Kindle Edition

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Length: 226 pages Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Verlyn Klinkenborg has written an exceptionally interesting and useful book about writing.  There have been good books on grammar and style, some classics, but none to compare to this one for understanding where sentences come from in the first place, where their vitality is found, and what distinguishes their energy,  their authenticity, and their prospects for life after birth--that is, the art of revision.  This book's long future will be a testament to its author's principles.” –Tom McGuane

"This is a very interesting little book about writing. Modest. Learned. Good-natured. Direct and sympathetic to its readers. You don't even have to read it front to back (probably you couldn't, anyway). You can just open it anywhere—as I did—and take away something useful." –Richard Ford   

“Verlyn Klinkenborg's Several Short Sentences About Writing is an invaluable book for anyone who wants to write well. The simple clarity and logic that he brings to the page is mesmerizing and inspiring—the ultimate cleansing process that leaves you wanting a fresh piece of paper and a brand new start. It is a book filled with great advice and wisdom. And it's fun, too!” –Jill McCorkle

“Expertise and zeal are required for an established writer to offer genuinely useful guidance to aspiring writers. It also helps if the writer teaches writing, as Klinkenborg has for many years…The result is a unique anatomy of the sentence and the writing mind and a clarifying and invigorating ‘book of first steps.’” –Booklist  

“To paraphrase Voltaire’s statement concerning the Almighty, ‘if Verlyn Klinkenborg did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him.’ Because having read Several Short Sentences About Writing, I do not think that it would be possible to not have this book on hand…no other book, old or new, is as well reasoned as this, as entertaining or as wise…Indeed, no other book is as filled with as much grounded, practical advice for putting words to the paper or electronic page or gives better, more helpful exercises…Best book on writing. Ever.” –New York Journal of Books  
 
“A fresh perspective on writing that goes against conventional classroom theory.” –Shelf Awareness
 
“Klinkenborg does away with much of the traditional wisdom on writing and dissects the sentence—its structure, its intention, its semantic craftsmanship—to deliver a new, useful, and direct guide to the art of storytelling.” –Brain Pickings

“Powerful…each sentence miraculously contains an idea or insight that lesser writers would have milked for several pages.” –Pittsburgh Post-Gazette   

About the Author

Verlyn Klinkenborg is a member of the editorial board of The New York Times, to which he also contributes meditations about his farm in upstate New York, collected in The Rural Life. His other books include Making Hay, The Last Fine Time, and Timothy; or, Notes of an Abject Reptile. Klinkenborg has a Ph.D. in English literature from Princeton University. 

Product Details

  • File Size: 2290 KB
  • Print Length: 226 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (August 7, 2012)
  • Publication Date: August 7, 2012
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0078XCQMW
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #91,141 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Richard Gilbert on August 20, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
How to foster a certain quality of mind, the writing mind, which notices, lies at the heart of Several Short Sentences About Writing. As the quotes below show, Klinkenborg's writing advice is presented like poetry. Technically it IS poetry, as he's controlling the length of his lines. This compulsively readable declarative poem runs for149 of the book's 204 pages, the balance being examples of prose, good and bad, and concise commentary. Here are some of his gnomic stanzas that struck me as interesting:

"If you notice something, it's because it's important.
But what you notice depends on what you allow yourself to notice,
And that depends on what you feel authorized, permitted to notice
In a world where we're trained to disregard our perceptions. . . .

"Is it possible to practice noticing?
I think so.
But I also think it requires a suspension of yearning
And a pause in the desire to be pouring something out of yourself.
Noticing is about letting yourself out into the world,
Rather than siphoning the world into you
In order to transmute it into words."

. . .

"The longer the sentence, the less it's able to imply,
And writing by implication should be one of your goals.
Implication is almost nonexistent in the prose that surrounds you . . .

"Try making prose with a poetic seriousness about its tools--
Rhythm, twists of language, the capacity to show the reader
What lies beyond expression,
But with the gaits of prose and a plainness in reserve
That poetry rarely possesses, an exalted plainness."

It's up to you to decide for yourself in the crucible of your practice whether Klinkenborg's opinions are true. He calls them conclusions, not assumptions.
Read more ›
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28 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Ronald E Jeffries on September 22, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The point, writing very simply. is good. the style is very choppy. he uses short sentences.

throughout.

it becomes off-putting. irritating.

the effect is interesting in small doses. this is a large dose. it becomes hard to get any new thoughts from it.

it's like a faucet drop. if it were rhythmic, it wouldn't be so bad.

but it isn't.

it's too random. good lessons, though. too random. for my taste.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Peter Meyers on August 28, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Equal to Strunk & White. Beautiful advice, innovative presentation. I didn't agree with every last point Klinkenborg made but what a treat spending time in the company of such a clear thinker. A must have for anyone who wants to write well.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Lyn Alexander on October 20, 2014
Format: Paperback
As I began reading this book, I found myself nodding my head, saying to myself, yes, yes, I do that; yes, I see that; yes, that is true; yes, I have always done that...
I enjoyed reading about these familiar turns of the writer’s brain. But after a few pages the message began to seem turgid. Repetitive. Slow. Dragging. Dull.
I have no doubt that Klinkenborg is a superb teacher of writing, but this book… in my opinion… does not drive a writer forward. It seems, on the other hand, to stop him in his tracks.
The essential message that I take from this book is that we must NOT write freely, we must examine each sentence as we put it to the page, and polish it, and make it perfect, and not worry about any other sentence until we are ready to proceed to the next sentence…
There. That is what I get from this book. And a lot about what the writer ought to be thinking while he is writing one sentence.
In three reading sessions I got to page 135 before wearily, finally, closing the covers. I don’t know what I may miss by not finishing the book. I don’t much care.
What I DO know is that I already know what Klinkenborg says I ought to know. Thank you.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth W. Schmid on March 1, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I always delighted in Verlyn Klinkenborg's thoughtful and elegantly written short essays in The New York Times. I respect him as a writer so looked forward to enjoying his book about writing.
Oh dear!
Turn immediately to Strunk and White! (Still the tops to my mind - readable and concise.) Embrace dear Brenda Ueland who is so very encouraging.
Klinkenborg's short sentences tended to be repetitive.
They lacked flow.
They went on and on...
The examples of bad wringing towards the end were not a good idea - as a teacher one comes upon lots of these - but educational textbooks provide these sort of exercises.
Maybe my expectations were too high.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth Hein - author of How To Climb The Eiffel Tower on October 14, 2012
Format: Hardcover
In this little book, Klinkenborg discusses how education and precedent lead people to write overly long, complicated sentences. He stresses writing clear sentences that say what you mean them to say. All the rest will fall into place from there.

I'm not sure if writing clearly is as simple as Klinkenborg makes it out to be but I did cull a few gems from the text that I'd like to share -

You can't revise or discard what you don't consciously recognize.

A cliche is dead matter.
It causes gangrene in the prose around it, and sooner or later, it eats your brain.

Your job as a writer is making sentences.
Your other jobs include fixing sentences, killing sentences, and arranging sentences.

This book will motivate you to focus on writing at the sentence level and not worry about the piece of writing as a whole.
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