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A STYLE GUIDE BY STEALTH - HOW ANYONE CAN WRITE WELL (AND FULLY ENJOY GOOD WRITING)
'Joe Moran is a wonderfully sharp writer, calm, precise and quietly comical' Craig Brown
Advanced maths has no practical use, and is understood by few. A symphony can be enjoyed, but created only by a genius. Good writing, however, can be written (and read) by anyone if we give it the gift of our time.
Enter universally praised historian Professor Joe Moran. From the Bible and Shakespeare to Orwell and Diana Athill, First You Write a Sentence.show us how the most ordinary words can be turned into verbal constellations, sharing:
- The tools of the trade; from typewriters to texting and the impact this has on the craft
- Writing and the senses; how to make the world visible and touchable
- How to find the ideal word, build a sentence, and construct a paragraph
Good writing can ignite the hearts and minds of readers, help us notice the world better and live more meaningful lives. And it's a power we all can wield.
'What a lovely thing this is: a book that delights in the sheer textural joy of good sentences . . . Any writer should read it' Bee Wilson
'Thoughtful, engaging, and lively . . . when you've read it, you realise you've changed your attitude to writing (and reading)' John Simpson, formerly Chief Editor of the OED and author of The Word Detective
'Moran is a past master at producing fine, accessible non-fiction' Helen Davies, Sunday Times
Less style guide than extended meditation on the sentence as written communication's basic building block, this is a heartfelt but sometimes overwrought affair. Moran, an English and Cultural History professor at Liverpool John Moores University, emphasizes that form is just as important as content. He provides many pieces of useful advice: the passive voice can be used effectively if done carefully; avoid using adjectives unnecessarily (as "hollow intensifiers") and instead use them to "make a noun more specific"; and don't discount writing as easy it is work. He makes persuasive arguments for the virtues of succinct, plain writing and for a more ornate style without definitively favoring either the key is to be adept at whichever is chosen. His own florid style, however, often gets in the way, and he falters when not directly addressing style points. An appendix of "20 Sentences on Sentences" seems more like a fortune cookie compendium than sound advice on composition. ("Train your ears, for how a sentence sounds in the head is also what it says to the heart.") Anyone who has waxed poetic about good writing will enjoy parts of Moran's book, but tolerance for the complete package will depend on the individual reader.