America"s most prominent writing teacher provides an engaging and practical overview to reliable short-form writing. In how to compose Short, Roy Peter Clark transforms his fist to the arts of painting a thousand pictures with just a couple of words. Short forms of creating have constantly existed-from ship logs and also telegrams come prayers and haikus. Yet in this ever-changing internet age, short-form writing has actually become crucial skill. Clark covers exactly how to write effective and powerful titles, headlines, essays, sales pitches, Tweets, letters, and also even self-descriptions for digital dating services. With instances from the long tradition of short-form composing in western culture, exactly how to Write brief guides writers to crafting excellent prose, even in 140 characters.

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About the Author


Roy Peter Clark is senior scholar at the Poynter Institute, one of the most prestigious colleges for journalists in the world. He has taught composing at every level — from schoolchildren come Pulitzer Prize-winning authors — for more than fourty years. A writer that teaches and a teacher who writes, he has authored or edited nineteen books on writing and journalism, including The art of X-Ray Reading, how to write Short, composing Tools, The Glamour that Grammar, and Help! for Writers. He lives in St. Petersburg, Florida, whereby he is taken into consideration a garage-band legend.

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Remember the movie kid who said, "I watch dead people"?

I see brief writing.

I collect it all in mine daybook: haikus and sonnets, aphorisms and also parables, prayers and insults, bumper sticker slogans and T-shirt rhymes, blurbs, titles, ads, street signs, marginalia, bulleted lists, track lyrics, announcements, propaganda, and names, names, and more names. Ns can additionally go new-school: tweets, blog posts, update on social networks, e-mails, message messages, and more.

I"m in an airport motel in Providence, Rhode Island, toweling off after a shower, when my eye captures a environment-friendly tag hooked top top the bath towel rack.

"Reuse or replace?" the reads.

And then: "To reuse: hang towels up; to replace: ar towels ~ above floor."

Then in ~ the bottom: "Take care. Us owe it come one another."

The layout is spare. Missing are native such together environment, sustainability, or climate change. The messenger counts top top my understanding the backstory: that needless laundering of towels helps no one. The slight article does heavy work. It provides readers a choice, then a course of action and, together in a parable, a moral as a reward.

I prowl the stacks in ~ a bookstore near Brown college called books on the Square. A volume dubbed The Notebook records my eye. The writer is José Saramago the Portugal, a winner of the Nobel prize in Literature. In quick daily i from September 2008 to November 2009 the writer chronicles the last year that his life, providing sharp opinions on politics, literature, and culture. Some entries measure five hundred words or more, however the average size is shorter. Before it became a book, the entries ran together blog posts.

It fills me with joy that an eighty-seven-year-old author would keep a blog. The stands through the octogenarian golf writer Dan Jenkins, that still reports top top tournaments live via Twitter. A third musketeer could be Herman Wouk, who is publishing—at the period of ninety-seven—an epistolary novel narrated v not simply letters however e-mails, message messages, and tweets.

Saramago blog on November 25, 2008, after ~ a push conference in São Paulo, Brazil:

I to be surprised that several journalists want to questioning me around my duty as a blogger ... Mine decision to write on the "infinite page of the Internet." can it be, to placed it more clearly, that it"s here that us all most very closely resemble one another? Is this the closest thing we need to citizen power? space we an ext companionable once we write on the Internet? I have actually no answers; I"m merely stating the questions. And I enjoy writing here now. Ns don"t understand whether the is much more democratic, i only recognize that i feel simply the very same as the young guy with the wild hair and the round-rimmed glasses, in his beforehand twenties, that was asking me ... Questions. For a blog, no doubt.

This i ends with a delightful jolt, a standard move in clever quick writing. The intentional sentence fragment stops the i short, a passage the rolls downhill from a first-person statement to a meditation ~ above writing, technology, and also democracy to a lively physical summary of a young blogger—all hitting a complete stop v the starkest language, five one-syllable native needing just fifteen letters.

But Saramago can go shorter. Take into consideration his take on the economic/political summit known as G20:

On the topic of the chimera the is the G20, simply three questions:

Why?

What for?

For whom?

Here the message reveals the effect of a solitary elegant word—a grace note—in one otherwise simple composition. The word is chimera. It way "illusion," or what the dictionary defines as "a fabrication that the mind." however that definition has to be abstracted indigenous the original. In Greek mythology, the chimera to be an imagine hybrid creature: "a fire-breathing she-monster ... Having actually a lion"s head, a goat"s body, and also a serpent"s tail." That an allegory transforms twenty "heads" the state into a power- hungry monster through twenty heads.

What shall us say around the nature of short writing because that those, such together Saramago, who are best known for creating long? Is the short piece a distillation of miscellaneous much much more substantial?

In a preface come The Notebook, the Italian novelist Umberto Eco uses this reflection:

I am composing this preface because I feel I have actually an endure in common with our girlfriend Saramago, and this is that writing books on the one hand, and also on the other of writing ethical critiques in a weekly magazine. Due to the fact that the second kind of creating is clearer and more popular 보다 the former, too many of human being have asked me if ns haven"t decanted right into the tiny articles more comprehensive reflections from the bigger books. However no, ns reply, experience teaches me ... That it is the impulse of irritation, the satirical sting, the cruel criticism created on the spur that the moment that will certainly go on to supply product for an essayistic have fun or a much more extended narrative. It is day-to-day writing that inspires the most committed works, not the other means round.

In other words, if you desire to create long, begin by composing short.

If her goal is to write short and well, friend must begin by reading the ideal short composing you have the right to find. Begin by maintaining a "commonplace book," a notebook that has treasured quick passages from favourite authors alongside bits and pieces that your own writing.

A great collector of short, lively language was Dale Carnegie, who motivated millions of readers with his midwestern common sense and pragmatic optimism. His own phrases to be quoted numerous times, perhaps due to the fact that he spent developmental years storing the wisdom of others.

In an introduction to an anthology title Dale Carnegie"s Scrapbook, Dorothy Carnegie explains, "Dale Carnegie to be a male who loved the flavor of a salty phrase. In all of his reading, the hooks of his fist were barbed to catch the pungent paragraph, the apt expression, the sweeping sentence the thereafter stayed fixed in his memory."

On random pages the scrapbook stores price quotes from Helen Keller, Winston Churchill, Emily Dickinson, and also Theodore Roosevelt, together with Washington, Franklin, Emerson, and many more. Gertrude Stein ("I favor familiarity. In me that does not breed contempt. Only much more familiarity") bumps right into Wilbur bright ("A parrot talks much but flies little").

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In his book The man Who made Lists, Joshua Kendall explains the life of Peter Roget, who provided us the world-famous thesaurus. As a young boy, Roget maintained notebooks in which he noted words that defined all facets of his little world. "At the heart of Peter"s childhood notebook space his word lists," to write Kendall, "written in a neat hand and consisting of Latin native juxtaposed v their English meanings, grouped under categories such together "Beasts," "People," "Parts the the Body," "Of Writing, Reading, etc.," "In the Garden," "Of the Weather,"" and many more.

Roget would have actually been a pan of Ben Schott"s original Miscellany, a small volume filled through both handy knowledge and also interesting curiosities. The Twelve Labors of Hercules rub up versus the name of Santa"s reindeer; human being War II postal acronyms (BURMA: it is in upstairs ready, my angel) native soldiers to your sweethearts ago home sit nicely upon a list of web emoticons including "wearing a turban":