How to Write Short: Word Craft for Fast Times

With more than 30 years of teaching writing to his credit, Roy Clark (Help! For Writers) brings writers and lovers of language new ways to write for today's fast-paced life. "We need more good short writing--the kind that makes us stop, read and think--in an accelerating world," Clark says in How to Write Short. "A time-starved culture bloated with information hungers for the lean, clean, simple and direct."

Although you may be familiar with the brevity of a modern text message or a tweet, Clark shows that the history of short writing--texts of about 300 words or less--goes back thousands of years. Sonnets, baseball cards, jingles in ads, song lyrics, lists, reviews and definitions are just some of the examples Clark encourages readers to look for, read and imitate. Search for short texts in odd places such as ship logs, tattoos, epitaphs and bumper stickers and jot them down in a notebook. By comparing and contrasting, cutting the repetition of words and changing the pace of a piece, Clark advises, one can still entice the reader, sell a product or show a story--even in as few as six words. Copious exercises reinforce each lesson as practice leads to perfection.

"Short work," Clark says, "need not be a compromise forced on the writer by technology, evolving social habits or shrinking resources." He aptly demonstrates that sparse writing doesn't have to mean stark writing. --Lee E. Cart, freelance writer and book reviewer

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