Synopses & Reviews
Most of what you think you know about writing is useless. It’s the harmful debris of your education—a mixture of half-truths, myths, and false assumptions that prevents you from writing well. Drawing on years of experience as a writer and teacher of writing, Verlyn Klinkenborg offers an approach to writing that will change the way you work and think. There is no gospel, no orthodoxy, no dogma in this book. What you’ll find here isn’t the way to write. Instead, you’ll find a way to clear your mind of illusions about writing and discover how you
Several Short Sentences About Writing is a book of first steps and experiments. They will revolutionize the way you think and perceive, and they will change forever the sense of your own authority as a writer. This is a book full of learning, but it’s also a book full of unlearning—a way to recover the vivid, rhythmic, poetic sense of language you once possessed.
An indispensable and distinctive book that will help anyone who wants to write, write better, or have a clearer understanding of what it means for them to be writing, from widely admired writer and teacher Verlyn Klinkenborg.
Klinkenborg believes that most of our received wisdom about how writing works is not only wrong but an obstacle to our ability to write. In Several Short Sentences About Writing, he sets out to help us unlearn that “wisdom”—about genius, about creativity, about writer’s block, topic sentences, and outline—and understand that writing is just as much about thinking, noticing, and learning what it means to be involved in the act of writing. There is no gospel, no orthodoxy, no dogma in this book. Instead it is a gathering of starting points in a journey toward lively, lucid, satisfying self-expression.
"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 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
"Powerful…each sentence miraculously contains an idea or insight that lesser writers would have milked for several pages." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
"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
"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
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.