- Paperback: 224 pages
- Publisher: Vintage; Vintage edition (April 9, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0307279413
- ISBN-13: 978-0307279415
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 150 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #20,250 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Several Short Sentences About Writing Paperback – April 9, 2013
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Praise for Verlyn Klinkenborg's Several Short Sentences About Writing:
“No other book, old or new, is as well reasoned as this, as entertaining or as wise. . . . Best book on writing. Ever. . . . 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. . . . 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.”
—New York Journal of Books
“Powerful . . . each sentence miraculously contains an idea or insight that lesser writers would have milked for several pages.”
“An exceptionally interesting and useful book about writing.”
“A fresh perspective on writing that goes against conventional classroom theory.”
“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.”
“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.’”
"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."
“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.”
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.
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The sentence structures are broken up,
making it hard to follow
and find main points.
As the stanzas break, at times
you are forced,
to follow after the indent.
And in my mind, this meant a
break in what the author was saying.
But, instead Klinkenborg’s idea went on.
But as the book went on
I got used to
the structure of how things were set up.
My problem was I was
reading it as poetry.
And that took away from what the
author was trying to say.
I had to read it like any other
text because the structure
And once I did that
I was able to connect with his message.
One of the things that Klinkenborg says
is for us to leave behind
all of the outline methods
He tells us that we need to have quick thoughts
and need to simply just write.
Let our minds wander.
There is no order or format essential
This is even more powerful
as the message is coming from the
author of a published book.
If he could convey this message
with lines lasting no more than 20 words,
his message really rang true.
Klinkenborg also talked a lot about abandoning
previous well-taught notions about writing,
for example starting
sentences with certain words
like and and but.
The tone of all of this writing
felt rebellious and sounded as though
you were talking to another student
about some English paper
that you were both dreading to write.
Klinkenborg also said that we need
to take care of our readers.
They need to be taken care of not tricked or grabbed.
The term ‘hooking our readers’,
which describes when a writer tries to
grab the attention of the reader quickly,
is seen as unnecessary from Klinkenborg’s perspective.
Klinkenborg suggest that as writers
we should interest the reader in what
we have to say.
Share our thoughts, feelings views.
A reader does not simply read on because there’s a good topic sentence.
Or choose to walk away
from reading if the topic sentence is poor.
Klinkenborg reinforces that if the writing is interesting, full of passion,
the reader will stay.
Klinkenborg’s message reinforces that
“writing comes from the writer”.
And as the writer you have to
focus on yourself instead of
Explore your thoughts.
Your ideas are good enough.
You're the writer,
and you're the one that is writing.
The story and everything that you need
comes from your brain.
Klinkenborg has a very similar
Message to the writer as
Keri Smith shares in her book.
Explore, notice, be more aware of your surroundings.
Take notes, take your time,
focus on things that interest you,
Don't panic. This will take time.
Klinkenborg encourages us to grow as writers.
“Push onto unsafe terrain.”
Take risks as a writer.
Open up to share a message.
This statement is rather bold,
And most certainly not accurate.
But reading through what else Klinkenborg had to say made me unsure.
I came out of the other end of the book,
Feeling inferior, and unsure of my writing.
The style which he used and the ideas proposed,
All of which deal with different aspects of writing.
What he wrote does not stay confined to keeping sentences short.
Instead it is focused on all parts of writing.
Some of which seems clear or doable,
While others seem to be out of reach.
Let’s start with the ideas that are achievable or clearly understood.
Short sentences can say complicated things.
This is proven throughout the entirety of the book.
From the view of a reader it was enjoyable,
Reading the book as though it were a large poem.
And shown first hand short sentences ideal properties.
We are even given ideas on how to write.
Make each sentence it's own paragraph.
Revise your sentences to see their value.
Rereading what you have written to find the mistakes or value,
To see the worth of each sentence.
Although I say I understand these ideas,
It is still quite difficult or uncomfortable to attempt.
Even now the formation of sentences,
The sudden break off and empty space between sentences,
Feels different and foreign.
All of which seems to lack something that was present in Klinkenborg’s writing.
Which brings me to the next idea Klinkenborg puts forward.
The attitude of the writer.
The writer should not write with the thought of rhythm or flow.
Rhythm is something the reader will do.
Flow, and natural are words that mean nothing in writing.
Klinkenborg explains that words like “flow” and “natural” are behind writer's block.
Being synonymous with laziness, ignorance, or haste.
He claims these words should be forgotten for all writers.
Believe in yourself, the writer.
That is another large idea Klinkenborg pushes forward.
And furthermore to trust the reader.
The casual shattering of our attempts to guide the reader around our writing.
The idea of using transition words is suddenly shunned,
Or presented in a light that made it seem as being useless.
I was on the fence about this.
I can see where he is coming from, that they are not a necessity.
But what is wrong with their existence to make them not needed?
Can the writer not guide the reader along their path?
The idea of any and all ideas that comes suddenly to a writer is useless.
This was something I did not agree with in the slightest.
While there are instances I am sure of this being true,
Sudden sparks of writing that come to the writer should not be turned down.
Perhaps the idea is intelligent, and usable.
To be flung away,
Simply because the idea came too quick.
Similar to his idea on longer sentences not equating to higher quality,
The longer the time for a thought, does not mean the better it is.
While it was easy to tell that Klinkenborg was extremely smart,
I did not always understand what he meant to say.
There was much about finding the shape of sentences,
And then using them to piece together other sentences.
However I was only left with an inkling of an idea as to how to do this.
In some sections he would advise for the writer to use a certain technique,
And then turn around to do the opposite.
Pages filled with rhetorical questions after being told to use rhetorical devices less.
The final pages are filled with different examples with explanations,
Helping to clear up some confusion or uncertainty.
When I finished I found myself enjoying the idea of what Klinkenborg wanted to share,
But somewhat uncertain on how to achieve it.
Most recent customer reviews
Let those who scoff remain set in their ways. I feel let in on a secret.
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