Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Several Short Sentences About Writing—A Craft Book

 By Suzy Leopold

    As a writer you write words, sentences, and paragraphs. As a writer you read books on the craft of writing. 

    In Several Short Sentences About Writing, teacher and author, Verlyn Klinkenborg writes about what it means to be embraced in the act of writing by thinking and noticing.

    A writer begins with an idea and writes a draft. As you revise, many words, even complete sentences, and paragraphs will be deleted because the manuscript becomes overcrowded. Verlyn Klinkenborg refers to this congestion as word huddles and phrases combined into a single long sentence.

    Think about the shape, form, and structure to write clearer sentences using the best words and deleting unnecessary words. Imagine revision as giving sentences a different rhythm. Write and shape strong and simple sentences. 

    Many sentences written in draft after draft need revision. Most often the challenge is how to fix, revise, and polish. During the revision process, writers know every word must prove to be essential; every word must earn its place. As author Pat Zietlow-Miller suggests, “cut the fluff.” 

    To make shorter sentences, remove every unnecessary word. Which words can the sentence live without?

Verlyn Klinkenborg suggests:

Your idea of necessary will change as your experience changes. 

Every word is optional until it proves to be essential.

Listen for the sentence that’ revealed as you remove one word after another. You’ll hear the improvement when you find it.

Try, for instance, removing the word “the.”

Several Short Sentences About Writing

By Verlyn Klinkenborg

Published by First Vintage Books Edition, 2013

    Author, Verlyn Klinkenborg begins:

“Here, in short, is what I want to tell you.

Know what each sentence says,

What it doesn’t say,

And what it implies.

Of these, the hardest is knowing what each sentence actually says.”

    Throughout his book, Verlyn Klinkenborg suggests to begin writing with short sentences that include rhythm. He shares an analogy of having each sentence take the stage to say something. It simply says its part and leaves the stage. Each sentence is independent and does not help the sentence before it or after. 

“It doesn’t wave to its friends in the audience or 

pause to be acknowledged or applauded.”

~Verlyn Klinkenborg

    Yet, we’ve been taught differently in high school and college. Many assume there’s a correlation between sentence length = intelligence. 

    There isn’t.

    Of course there is nothing wrong with well constructed lengthy sentences when needed. Writing shorter sentences replaces simplicity and precision with strength and balance.

    You become a better writer by becoming a better reader. Writing well and reading well are reciprocal. 

“Being a writer is an act of perpetual self-authorization.

Who’s going to give you the authority to feel that what you notice is important? 

It will have to be you.”

~Verlyn Klinkenborg

    This craft of writing book is sure to help you writer better by writing shorter sentences.

    Praise for Verlyn Klinkenborg’s book:

“No other book, old or new, is as well reasoned as this, as entertaining or as wise . . . Best book on writing. Ever.” —New York Journal of Books

“This is simply one of the best books about writing I’ve ever read. Up there with Anne Lamott’s Bird By Bird and other classics.” —Austin Kleon 


  1. Suzy, I am intrigued. Sentences must stand on their own! I need to get this book on my TBR pile. Looking at sentences differently already. TY.

    1. May SEVERAL SHORT SEMTEMCES ABOUT WRITING soon be on top of your TBR pile, Kathy.

  2. Replies
    1. Joyce: Author, Verlyn Klinkenborg, shares excellent advice on how to write better, clearer sentences.

  3. looks like a book I'll need to read. Great post!

    1. This book on the craft of writing is highly recommended, Sue.

  4. Looking forward to reading this book! Thanks for sharing it!

    1. Mr. Klinkenborg's book shares a fresh, interesting perspective on the craft of writing.

      The information is sure to support your writing, Beth.

    2. I got it and have started it. I really like parts of it, but I have to say he has a vendetta about "what we were taught" which doesn't ring true with most of my experience as a student or as a teacher..... but I shall continue.

  5. Suzy, thank you for bringing this book to my attention. I'll have to give it a study!

    1. You are welcome, Charlotte. May this book offer new tips for your WIPs.

      Thank you for your continued support for the GROG Blog.

  6. I've been a fan of Verlyn's writing for years. This sounds like a terrific craft book. Thanks for the rec!

  7. Jilanne: This is the first book I read by Mr. Klinkenborg. I look forward to reading additional titles.

  8. So glad this book has been helpful to you and that you shared highlighted tidbits. Your info will help me revisit my work.

    1. Sherri: Wishing you all the best as you reread, revise, and reconfigure your WIPs while choosing the just right words to create shorter sentences.