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  • Published: 4 February 2020
  • ISBN: 9780241978511
  • Imprint: Penguin General UK
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 240
  • RRP: $28.00

First You Write a Sentence.

The Elements of Reading, Writing . and Life.




A style guide by stealth - how anyone can write well (and can enjoy good writing)

The sentence is the common ground where every writer walks. A poet writes in sentences, but so does the unsung author who came up with Items trapped in doors cause delays. A good sentence can be written (and read) by anyone if we simply give it the gift of our time.

Enter widely-acclaimed author Professor Joe Moran. First You Write a Sentence is his unpedantic and authoritative explanation of how the most ordinary words can be turned into verbal constellations of extraordinary grace. Using examples ranging from the Bible and Shakespeare to George Orwell and Maggie Nelson, and studies of what can best fire the reader's mind, he shows how we can all write in a way that is clear, compelling and alive. Good writing can even make ourselves known to others and live more meaningful lives. It's an elegant gem in praise of the English sentence.

  • Published: 4 February 2020
  • ISBN: 9780241978511
  • Imprint: Penguin General UK
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 240
  • RRP: $28.00

Also by Joe Moran

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Praise for First You Write a Sentence.

Moran has fast become Britain's foremost explorer and explainer of the disregarded

Juliet Gardiner, author of 'Wartime: Britain 1939-1945'

Joe Moran is the most perceptive and original observer of British life that we have

Matthew Engel

Moran is a past master at producing fine, accessible non-fiction. His trick is to take what might be considered a perfectly ordinary behaviour ... and uncover fact after fascinating fact

Helen Davies, Sunday Times

Moran is a wonderful, witty writer, and here he surpasses himself

Marcus Berkmann (on Shrinking Violets), Daily Mail

Joe Moran has a genius for turning the prosaic poetic

Peter Hennessy

Joe Moran is a wonderfully gifted social historian...he has the poet's ability to find the remarkable in the commonplace

Craig Brown

Moran's genius is to show us what was right in front of us all along

Bee Wilson

Moran is a past master at producing fine, accessible non-fiction.

Helen Davies, Sunday Times

Thoughtful, engaging, and lively exposé of the quirks and beauties of the full sentence . . . It's a style guide by stealth: when you've read it, you realise you've changed your attitude to writing (and reading).

John Simpson, formerly Chief Editor of the OED and author of The Word Detective

What a lovely thing this is: a book that delights in the sheer textural joy of good sentences. Joe Moran has written a book about writing that is itself a collection of sentences to inspire, divert and console. Any aspiring writer should read it, if only to be reminded how crazily hard it is to write words 'in such a way that they can be deciphered in your absence'

Bee Wilson

Joe Moran is a wonderfully sharp writer, calm, precise and quietly comical . . . Moran's own sentences are perfect advertisements for the aims they espouse

Craig Brown, Mail on Sunday

Whether you're composing an ad for a shop or embarking on your first literary masterpiece, it is indispensable. As an inspiration to savour every encounter, to train your lazy brain to be alert to a beautifully devised phrase, a poetic alleviation, a mood-changing bon mot, it is even more rewarding

Jane Annie, Big Issue

Thoughtful reflections on how to write well

John Mullan, Guardian Review

Compelling . . . There's plenty in Moran's book to delight grammar and language nerds

Daniel Hahn, The Spectator

Humane and witty . . . as a primer in generous and lively writing, First You Write a Sentence is blithe and convincing

Brian Dillon, New York Times

Exquisite...Moran's own sentences are so deliciously epigrammatic that I considered giving up chocolate in favour of re-reading his book...He is more mentor than instructor

Irina Dumitrescu, TLS

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