Are you a reader who values a writer's style as much as the meaning it conveys?

Are you a writer who seeks to refine your own style?

Would you like to improve your understanding of the techniques writers use to create beautiful sentences?

Welcome to the search for the perfect sentence!

Most readers and writers focus on the content of a piece--the ideas it conveys, the story it carries, the events it chronicles. "So many books, so little time" we readers chorus, rushing through our stories, newspapers, websites. "Is it finished?" we writers ask. "Have I written enough words? Have I gotten the content across?"

Here we'll focus on the style of writing more than its content. We'll slow down. We'll read very short passages, sometimes single sentences, and we'll savor their wordcraft. We'll examine why each word was chosen, how they were arranged into sentences, and how those sentences evoke our responses. In the process, I hope we'll become more careful, perceptive readers and more effective writers.

Beautiful writing is everywhere--on the sports page of the morning paper, in the novel that relaxes you at night, in your grandmother's love letters found in the attic. If you would like to contribute a passage for close reading, with or without your own interpretation of its techniques, please email me at

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Sentences about Sentences

From "My Life's Sentences" by Jhumpa Lahiri

Surely it is a magical thing for a handful of words, artfully arranged, to stop time. To conjure a place, a person, a situation, in all its specificity and dimensions. To affect us and alter us, as profoundly as real people and things do.

The best sentences orient us, like stars in the sky, like landmarks on a trail. They remain the test, whether or not to read something. The most compelling narrative, expressed in sentences with which I have no chemical reaction, or an adverse one, leaves me cold. In fiction, plenty do the job of conveying information, rousing suspense, painting characters, enabling them to speak. But only certain sentences breathe and shift about, like live matter in soil. 

1 comment:

  1. I just want to thank you so much for your blog. Having tried resorting to writing manuals to improve my style, I continue to find that your blog provides the most inspiration.