First You Write a Sentence.: The Elements of Reading, Writing ... and Life.

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Penguin UK, Sep 27, 2018 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 240 pages


'Joe Moran is a wonderfully sharp writer, calm, precise and quietly comical' Craig Brown

Advanced maths has no practical use, and is understood by few. A symphony can be enjoyed, but created only by a genius. Good writing, however, can be written (and read) by anyone if we give it the gift of our time.

Enter universally praised historian Professor Joe Moran. From the Bible and Shakespeare to Orwell and Diana Athill, First You Write a us how the most ordinary words can be turned into verbal constellations, sharing:

- The tools of the trade; from typewriters to texting and the impact this has on the craft
- Writing and the senses; how to make the world visible and touchable
- How to find the ideal word, build a sentence, and construct a paragraph

Good writing can ignite the hearts and minds of readers, help us notice the world better and live more meaningful lives. And it's a power we all can wield.

'What a lovely thing this is: a book that delights in the sheer textural joy of good sentences . . . Any writer should read it' Bee Wilson

'Thoughtful, engaging, and lively . . . 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

'Moran is a past master at producing fine, accessible non-fiction' Helen Davies, Sunday Times


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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - waldhaus1 - LibraryThing

While ending with twenty rules about writing the book outs is really the authors travelogue about finding voice and clarity with the written word. It was a pleasure to read. An appreciated gift ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - dtw42 - LibraryThing

A bit pretentious in places, perhaps. But the author certainly practised what he preached, because it was lucid and pleasurable to read - indeed, I found myself reading bits of it aloud … to myself. Read full review


A Pedants Apology
The Ape That Writes Sentences
Nouns versus Verbs
Nothing Like a Windowpane
The Highwire
Foolish Like a Trout
A Small Good Thing
Twenty Sentences on Sentences

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About the author (2018)

Joe Moran is Professor of English and Cultural History at Liverpool John Moores University and is the author of seven books, including Queuing for Beginners: The Story of Daily Life from Breakfast to Bedtime, Armchair Nation: An Intimate History of Britain in Front of the TV, Shrinking Violets: The Secret Life of Shyness and First You Write a Sentence. He writes for, among others, the Guardian, the New Statesman and the Times Literary Supplement.