2013 Reading: How to Write a Sentence by Stanley Fish

How to Write a SentenceHow to Write a Sentence: And How to Read One by Stanley Fish: The book isn’t nearly as enlightening as I’d hoped. At the outset, Fish dismisses the jargon of linguistics but simply substitutes his own. I’m learning far more from a much more difficult but substantial book on language than I did from this one. Of course, for a writer, it is often interesting to see examples of the good and the bad drawn from published work, but Fish could have chosen more modern authors—he doesn’t seem to get much past Gertrude Stein—to be more appealing and relevant to writers.

I suppose if I were still teaching Freshman composition, some of the ideas articulated in the book might be useful. Fortunately for me, I’m not.

On the other hand–and I’m not sure this was a function of reading the book or simply the fact that I’m in the early stages of writing my new novel–I do find myself thinking more and more about sentences. So I’m not sorry that I read Fish.

About the author


  1. You’re doing quite of bit of reading and thinking. I hope you’re not doubting yourself. You’re far too accomplished a writer to go back the way you came, searching for something you think you might have dropped.

  2. I think a little doubt, if that’s what I’m feeling, might help! As I move forward in this novel, I need to think about plotting (not sentences so much) in a way that I haven’t before, since both of my unpublished novels I believe have plot flaws. (Anyway, I’m not really doing more reading/thinking than usual; I’m just doing a better job of recording it here!)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.