“The writer’s job isn’t accepting sentences,” writes Verlyn Klinkenborg.
“The job is making them, word by word.”
To emphasize the importance of sentences, Klinkenborg hits a hard return after each of his.
Which is annoying at first, but the rhythm soon begins to soothe the ear, like that of an epic poem especially for writers.
Each sentence should express a thought precisely, with rhythm, clarity, and balance, writes Klinkenborg.
Sentences that come to mind too quickly or easily — Klinkenborg calls them “volunteers” — are likely to be cliched or dull.
That’s why Klinkenborg distrusts “flow.”
Writers in flow, he says, are just collecting volunteer sentences.
The reader, not the writer, should be in flow.
Klinkenborg suggests that writers abandon outlines, and instead trust the order of their thoughts.
From thoughts will come sentences.
In fact, thoughts and sentences should be the same thing.
Or nearly the same thing.
And if a writer learns to write while thinking, while observing and understanding how and why each sentence is built, he or she can compose and revise at the same time.
Or nearly the same time.
“With practice, this will become a more efficient and more creative way to write, a way of discovering what you didn’t know you could say,” writes Klinkenborg.
I believe him, and I plan to follow his advice.
But not while on deadline.
Not yet, anyway.
(P.S. Klinkenborg appends a brilliantly selected set of passages written by great literary journalists.
And some tart grammatical advice.
Both are nearly as useful as the main section of the book.)