Three Gems

“I’ve been teaching writing for a long time and I’ve looked through a lot of writing books. They seem just ordinary to me. There’s nothing about the way they make the case or their arguments, their thoughts, that seem compelling to me. I was trying to imagine how I would write this book in ordinary prose, formatted as ordinary prose. I couldn’t imagine it.”
Verlyn Klinkenborg,

With this in mind, our friend Verlyn, a highly regarded essayist, wrote Several Short Sentences about Writing, a different kind of — one that’s surprising and refreshing, and
challenges us to think about words on a page in new ways. Three provocative gems:

“Examine the distance between sentences.
Some lie close together, making small steps forward.
Others seem to stand well apart from each other,
Advancing the piece discontinuously.
Advancing the piece discontinuously.

“Make your prose look less familiar.
Turn every sentence into its own paragraph….
What happens?
A sudden, graphic display of the length of your sentences.
And better yet, their relative length, how it varies, or doesn’t
vary, from one to the next.
Variation is the life of prose, in length and in structure.

“The workings of your unconscious mind,
The current of your subterranean thoughts and intuitions,
The flickering of insight and instinct —
These will always surface if you write clearly enough
to let them.”

Pithy pointers to ponder as we all polish our prose and poetry — and write on!

About karinwritesdangerously

I am a writer and this is a motivational blog designed to help both writers and aspiring writers to push to the next level. Key themes are peak performance, passion, overcoming writing roadblocks, juicing up your creativity, and the joys of writing.
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2 Responses to Three Gems

  1. Pat Carrigan says:

    Aah! Karin, you do it every single day. You surprise and encourage as VERLYN does in this wonderful little book. When his Rural Life left the Times a couple of years ago, I was distraught. It was such a lovely little column to bring us right into nature with wonderful writing. But now we all have you and the fabulous information you share. Again! Thank You!

    • Hi Pat,

      Thank you, thank you, for your lovely and inspiriting words —

      they’ve given me such a boost on a rainy day. I feel so

      grateful and glad to know that I am being of help on

      your writing journey — just as you are helping me by

      cheering me on.

      Wishing you and yours everything wonderful in the New Year!

      Write on,



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