I'm half through Stanley Fish's How to Write a Sentence and How to Read One and I'm having trouble liking it. This eloquent take-down by Joseph Epstein expresses my feelings perfectly.
Learning to write sound, interesting, sometimes elegant prose is the work of a lifetime. The only way I know to do it is to read a vast deal of the best writing available, prose and poetry, with keen attention, and find a way to make use of this reading in one’s own writing. The first step is to become a slow reader. No good writer is a fast reader, at least not of work with the standing of literature. Writers perforce read differently from everyone else. Most people ask three questions of what they read: (1) What is being said? (2) Does it interest me? (3) Is it well constructed? Writers also ask these questions, but two others along with them: (4) How did the author achieve the effects he has? And (5) What can I steal, properly camouflaged of course, from the best of what I am reading for my own writing? This can slow things down a good bit.
Don't miss the ending. I'm not overstating when I say that Epstein … earns a victory lap? … sticks the landing? … drives it out of the park? …
Damnit, I need to write more.
An alternative book that I enjoyed skimming was Arthur Plotnik's Spunk and Bite, which strongly encourages reading the best contemporary writers and cherry-picking the elements of prose and poetry that might make your writing a little more lively.
Comments? I don’t do open comments. Life is too short.