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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From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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