Writers can surely benefit from practicing some of these tiny techniques, but voracious reading, writing, traveling,...



A veteran writing teacher at the Poynter Institute returns with some ideas that writers can learn from the short forms that now proliferate—from tweets to text messages to bathroom scrawls (really).

Clark’s (Help! For Writers: 210 Solutions to the Problems Every Writer Faces, 2011, etc.) text resembles just about any other in the self-help genre: short, snappy chapters (and sentences and paragraphs), lists (bulleted and otherwise) and end-of-the-chapter suggestions for additional activities (he calls these “Grace Notes”). The advice he offers is a mixture of the traditional and the novel. He suggests aspiring writers should keep a commonplace book filled with examples of short-and-effective writing gleaned from our contemporary short-form environment. His thesis is patent: If writers desire to write long, they should “begin by writing short.” Clark spends the majority of the book examining various places where short texts occur and explaining how writers can, and should, benefit from them. His sources are in some cases surprising, sometimes not: baseball cards, book blurbs, marginalia, blogs, Zach Galifianakis–like quips, haiku, single-sentence stories, T-shirt slogans and profiles composed for online dating sites. Among the most unusual are text messages sent during a psycho’s armed attack in Norway. Clark offers some more literary examples, as well, ranging from an Updike paragraph to the Gettysburg Address and the writings of Samuel Johnson. The “Grace Note” sections are generally unremarkable, with suggestions ranging from, “Write a brief premise for a movie” to, “Spend time and energy on titles and headlines.” He advises writers to learn different ways to form lists in a text, then closes with some warnings about the power of short writing to harm as well as benefit (Orwell and Huxley appear here).

Writers can surely benefit from practicing some of these tiny techniques, but voracious reading, writing, traveling, thinking and feeling can help even more.

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-316-20435-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 29, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2013

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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