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How to Write Short: Word Craft for Fast Times Hardcover – 29 Aug 2013

3.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown US (29 Aug. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316204358
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316204354
  • Product Dimensions: 14.6 x 2.5 x 22.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 691,273 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"Roy Peter Clark has compressed a lifetime of learning and love of language into How to Write Short. An engaging, entertaining, indispensable guide to the art and craft of concision."
--James Geary, author of "The World in a Phrase: A Brief History of the Aphorism" and "I Is an Other: The Secret Life of Metaphor and How It Shapes the Way We See the World"

""How to Write Short" both instructs and delights, in equal measure. On every page there is some useful advice and an amusing observation or illustration. Roy Peter Clark's many fans know that (extremely) diverse examples are one of his specialties, and this book doesn't disappoint. Open it up at random and you'll find quotes from Oscar Wilde, Steven Wright, Dorothy Parker, and Gypsy Rose Lee. And that's just one page! Read this book!"
--Ben Yagoda, author of "When You Catch an Adjective, Kill It" and "How to Not Write Bad "(forthcoming 2/2013)

""How to Write Short" comes at the perfect time and enshrines Roy Peter Clark as America's best writing coach. Who else could masterfully tease the secrets of short, powerful writing from unexpected sources -- the Bible, Shakespeare, Tom Petty, and Abe Lincoln? This book should be on every serious writer's shelf." --Ben Montgomery, staff writer, "Tampa Bay Times"

"A fun, practical guide to writing little from a guy who's written a lot. Respected journalist and writing teacher Roy Peter Clark really knows his way around a sentence. Learn from him." --Christopher Johnson, author of "Microstyle: The Art of Writing Little"

"We're writing more than ever before, all of us, on screens big and small, and the pressure is on to make our characters count. In this book, Roy Peter Clark show us how, and more importantly, why it's worth the effort. "How to Write Short" is both a deeply practical guidebook and an annotated collection of concise gems from some of the world's greatest writers and journalists, not one of them longer than 300 words. Roy's message is clear: great writing is a matter of craft, not word count. "How to Write Short "will make you a better writer at any length."
--Robin Sloan, author of" Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore"

Book Description

Roy Peter Clark, the most influential writing teacher in the U.S., offers an engaging and practical guide to effective short form writing.

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Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Am still crazy about Clark's "Writing Tools - 50 essential strategies..." This one is much like it in form and function -- but I've not been quite as pulled in. Still, some great things to work with and think about here.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I write for young adults and, for those who are growing up in the text age, I know it's often easier to get a message across by short, sharp injection. This book has an abundance of ideas about how to do that. It does exactly what it says it will.
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Format: Paperback
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.2 out of 5 stars 51 reviews
25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth Your Attention and Reading Time 29 Aug. 2013
By W. Terry Whalin - Published on
Format: Hardcover
To communicate with power and a few words is a valuable skill. Journalist and writing instructor Roy Peter Clark has served the writing community with HOW TO WRITE SHORT. I enjoyed this book and believe if you apply the teaching; it will improve your writing.

As Clark writes in the opening pages,"I've written HOW TO WRITE SHORT because I could not find another book quite like it and because in the digital age, short writing is king. We need more good short writing--the kind that makes us stop, read, and think--in an accelerating world. A time-starved culture bloated with information hungers for the lean, clean, simple, and direct. Such is our appetite for short writing that not only do our long stories seem long, but our short stories feel too long as well." (Page 4)

The short punchy chapters in this book are fun to read and loaded with insight. I learned a great deal in HOW TO WRITE SHORT. I recommend it.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars RPC Sharpens Shorts; Gets Buy 30 Sept. 2013
By Stephen W. Hiemstra ﻦ - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
So. You are a boomer with a manuscript in hand terrified of having to promote a book in a new world of blogs and tweets. What do you do? Start by reading Roy Peter Clark's new book, How to Write Short.

Clark writes his advice in 35 short reflections organized into two sections: "How to Write Short" and "How to Write Short with a Purpose". He caps these sections off with an epilog: "A Few Final Words--441 to Be Exact".

Clark's first reflection focuses on getting you to open your eyes. In a world inundated with data in the form of writing, images, and sounds, what catches your attention? Coyly, Clark paraphrases the line from Sixth Sense. Not, "I see dead people", but "I see short writing"(15). Clark collects shorts like other people collect sidewalk pennies. In reviewing the sparse style of these shorts, he draws attention to the backstory that makes them interesting. Shorts sparkle because they remind you of something. A "grace note", Clark adds, increases the sparkle by reframing the sparkle in a new, interesting way. Or it may just offer a jolt (17-21).

I did not expect a writing book to be a page turner. I did not expect How to Write Short would get me to look at my long writing differently. I do expect that I will be referring back to this book in my book's next edit. Yeah!
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pay Attention! Informative and useful but enjoyable! 5 Sept. 2013
By Cianna Elizabeth - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
Grade: A+

This is an enlightening read. It's quick, it's easy to read and it really changes your outlook on 140 characters or less, and how that can affect writing in all forms. Writing short can actually enhance your ability to write long.

I loved it, from the perspective of someone who deals in Marketing and Blogging and social media all day, this book has been an invaluable tool. It has insight along with explanation, as well as support. Everything is condensed in this small little book. It doesn't force learning on you, but let's you come to the learning. In our modern society, the skill of writing short is so critical. You need to get a lot of big ideas into very small spaces.

The guides, the examples and the general wit of Roy Peter Clark makes this read more like a fiction book, then a writing guide. It's informative, but interesting, and it still gives you the little push to turn the page and see what's next. He efficiently sums up his points at the end of each chapter, giving you key points to remember.

Each chapter includes things to think about, things to try, and general observations about short writing. The clever ways it's used, the clever people who have used it, and the unusual places you can find some of the best short writing. This isn't meant to be a textbook, or even a style guide; this book is meant to help you learn the art of concise. We live in a world of short writing, this book just helps usher you into it with honors.

If you are a marketing person, blogger, tweeter, or basically any form of modern day writer, you need to check out this book. It's so informative without being overwhelming. You don't even realize the author is teaching you until it's too late and you've learned!

I got this book as an ARC from NetGalley for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well worth your time 16 Sept. 2013
By S. Adler - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This little book will engage, amuse and educate you. Roy Peter Clark will show you how to use a bunch of little tricks and techniques to improve your writing from emails to tweets, essays to short stories. Want to impress your parents with your Facebook entry? Check out the techniques in Chapters 13-16. Updating your dating profile? Entice, chapter 27. Your kids think you are growing senile and want you in a home? Sound wise, chapter 25, and wow them with your next email. Finally:This should be required reading for anyone who blogs.
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining, Occasionally Useful 2 Sept. 2013
By Michael P. Maslanka - Published on
Format: Hardcover
If you are looking for a book that teaches a formulaic approach to writing, this isn't it. You get 35 short chapters, condensed into 239 pages covering lots of territory. Some of it is inspired(he deconstructs the Chrysler haltime commerical at the Super Bowl and shows why its structure and word choice is so effective(use of the word "fog" because by implication the fog always lifts); some is incisive(he sides with those who argued that the "drum major" quote was concise but out of context;brevity is not a virtue in itself but "brevity loves compnay---in the form of substance and style";some is basic but a good reminder---group items in threes a la "truth, justice and the American way" but don't forget the power of binary construction(ying/yang). Nice chapter on how to use a subordinate clause to tee up a powerful idea("When one of us is chained, none of us is free.") Well worth the modest time investment.
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