Introduction: Notes on Several Short Sentences About Writing by Verlyn Klinkenborg
Don’t you just love a book titled, Several Short Sentences About Writing? Well, Several Short Sentences About Writing by Verlyn Klinkenborg is unexpected. As I was reading the book, here are the words I wrote as I reacted to what I was reading. It is like a breath of fresh air. It is like a jolt of lightning. It brings you back to life.
When I say the book is unexpected, I mean it literally. When you read this book, it will make you uncomfortable because you have to unlearn many things that you learned and believe about writing.
What is Several Short Sentences About Writing by Verlyn Klinkenborg About?
According to Verlyn Klinkenborg, “Most of the received wisdom about how writing works is not only wrong but harmful.”
The author says there is no such thing as writer’s block. If you are suffering from writer’s block, you haven’t done your homework. You haven’t done enough research. You haven’t prepared sufficiently. Forget about trying to be in flow. Stop being afraid of what your audience may think. Start thinking. Start reading. Be patient with yourself. Stop being in such a hurry to get on with your writing. Do you believe there is no such thing as writer’s block?
If that slap on the wrist is not enough, Klinkenborg wants you to get rid of all transitions and connections, because if you write clearly, you don’t need them. So, there are no if, ands or buts. I can hear you saying, “Is this Verlyn Klinkenborg guy for real? Who does he think he is?”
Reading Several Short Sentences About Writing by Verlyn Klinkenborg is music to the ears. You’ll feel like you are watching a stellar performance. The imagery pulls you in. You are now part of the performance. A sentence is like a performance. It says its piece and leaves the stage. It’s like an actor in a theater performing. He says his part, then leaves the stage, so the other actor can say his piece.
Some of what Verlyn Klinkenborg says in the book may sound confusing at first. Before you discount what he has to say, reflect on his message.
Several Short Sentences About Writing by Verlyn Klinkenborg: Things to Think About
In writing, you can get to anywhere from anywhere. You can start anywhere. You can end anywhere.
The second sentence you write can actually be the 10th sentence in your piece. Let the first sentence lead you to where it wants to go.
Every work of literature is the result of thousands and thousands of decisions. Intricate minute decisions – this word or that, here or where, now or later, again and again.
Syntactic and grammatical accuracy is the precondition for being sure your sentences say what you think they say.
People will continue to believe that writing is natural. This harms only writers who believe it themselves.
What seems like common sense to you may come as a revelation to the reader.
Ask yourself, “Who am I to the reader?” and “What can I expect the reader to know?”
Curiosity, patience, and the ability to improvise help you to become better at revising. Remain open to the work and let it remain open to you.
Write for the reader in yourself, but do not write for yourself. Imagine the readers experience.
You’re a writer and a reader. You become a better writer by becoming a better reader.
Writing well and reading well mean paying attention to all the subtleties – all the minute details.
The purpose of a sentence is to say what it has to say, but also be itself.
Good writing makes any subject interesting.
Although Several Short Sentences About Writing by Verlyn Klinkenborg departs from most books about writing, the author believes that you have to understand grammar, syntax and so on, because sentences adhere to rules – grammar, syntax, the history and customs of the language.
Several Short Sentences About Writing by Verlyn Klinkenborg: About Editing
Be clear, precise, intelligent, resourceful, poetic, and wise. Leave space for silence, for the pauses. There are no sacred cows when it comes to your sentences. Remove words instead of adding them. Use direct language, don’t be evasive in your writing. Be simple in word choice when constructing your sentences. And when you feel like things are really working in your piece, it’s time to break what already works. Keep doing this until it’s time to move on what’s next.
After reading Several Short Sentences About Writing by Verlyn Klinkenborg, you’ll never feel the same about writing. I highly recommend this book.
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This post was first published in February 2016!