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First You Write a Sentence.

The Elements of Reading, Writing...and Life.
By: Joe Moran
Narrated by: Roy McMillan
Length: 8 hrs and 13 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (6 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Penguin presents the audiobook edition If First You Write a Sentence by Joe Moran, read by Roy McMillan.   

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, and it is as close as most of us will get to making something truly beautiful.  

Enter acclaimed author Professor Joe Moran. Using minimal technical terms, First You Write a Sentence is his unpedantic but authoritative explanation of how the most ordinary words can be turned into verbal constellations of extraordinary grace. Using sources ranging from the Bible and Shakespeare to George Orwell and Maggie Nelson, and scientific 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.

Whether dealing with finding the ideal word, building a sentence or constructing a paragraph, First You Write a Sentence informs by light example: much richer than a style guide, it can be read not just for instruction but for pleasure and delight. And along the way it shows how good writing can help us notice the world, make ourselves known to others and live more meaningful lives. It's an elegant gem in praise of the English sentence.  

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

©2018 Joe Moran (P)2018 Penguin Books Ltd

Critic Reviews

"Moran is a past master at producing fine, accessible non-fiction." (Helen Davies, Sunday Times)

"Joe Moran has a genius for turning the prosaic poetic." (Peter Hennessy) 

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All the instruction needed to appreciate writing.

Taken on the journey of the sentence, I am in a beautiful place of words, inspiration and calm.

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  • marija maher
  • 12-25-18

Brilliant

This is probably the best book I’ve read all year. Definitely the best non fiction book. I would recommend this to everyone. As a budding writer I found it immensely enjoyable but it also has something to teach about life. It it beautifully written. I have bought a hard copy, and a kindle copy to have too so I can access it anywhere. That said, I really enjoyed the narration.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Chong Beng Lim
  • 12-03-18

A new Bible for writing superb sentences

This book is inspirationally illuminating. It is packed with a wealth of useful tips for wonderful writing. However, the book is sometimes long-winded and mired in the sea of thoughts of the writer. Perhaps the writer can demonstrate more effective examples of great writing rather than ramble along throughout the journey of the book.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Mr. A. R. Junior
  • 08-16-19

Beautifully written, beautifully read.

This book is going to be a classic. Timelessly written. a book for grownups who love words and writing.

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  • uday
  • 05-18-19

the way good writing is ....

This is a book I return to often as a friend would revisit a friend as a student would revisit his teacher. Every listen draws more meaning, and more good sense. In all that I write this book hangs as the voice behind my head asking me, demanding, that I be more considerate to my reader and remove everything that will frustrate her and make her struggle to read on. The book never hectors; it's a kind work guiding you gently to revise if possible listen to what you've written and revise, and revise again. I may never achieve the perfection that comes out of polishing a piece of furniture again and again until you can see the reflection of your face in it but it's enough that I am able to discern my face when first I saw only a full cupboard whose beauty lay hidden by neglect. What more can I say of something so refined and so very absorbing? This is one book many will return to, as I do, as much for it's inherent goodness as for it's brilliant narration.

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  • buyer250
  • 04-17-19

A joy to listen to

The author’s love of writing is fills the pages. Very engaging and it teaches without feeling like it is doing so. Well narrated- although the attempted US accent is irritating.

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  • Longshanks
  • 02-20-19

This is the most magical and inspiring read

I can't say enough about this book. I found myself inspired and reinvigorated to keep writing. I began to believe again that with time, love and lots of fun-filled effort I could achieve my ambition. I even cried tears at some of the observations surrounding our amazing and rich language. Joe Moran left me with a quite purpose to keep working at those sentences and with a smile.

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  • jenny sanders
  • 01-10-19

Inspiring

The most exsquisite celebration of the written word. A joy - from each capital letter to every full stop.

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  • Mel
  • 11-12-18

Beautiful and fascinating

Listening to.it was so interesting. I don't think I would have had the patience to read it - but having it read was pure pleasure. Just wish the audio proofers had made sure netsuke was pronounced properly.



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  • Kevin
  • 10-18-18

First You Read This Book.

This book celebrates the magic you feel when reading great writing... and is it's own example.

It explains the craft that goes into well-written sentences, in a way that inspires you to then write some of your own.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 01-30-19

flowing with elegance

I have read it and listened I will do it again. until the sentences will make sense...

0 of 2 people found this review helpful