How to Write a Sentence and How to Read One (Fish)

After all of the years of teaching writing, I’ve started to think that it’s time to start with the smallest element possible – the sentence. Like other books I’ve read recently, Fish argues for the idea of using templates. This, taken together with They Say, I Say and Don and Jenny Killgallon’s work, has definitely persuaded me not only of the value of templates, but also of the need to treat the literature I teach as a mentor text. This can be hard to do when I don’t control the reading selections, but the idea of moving as seamlessly as possible between reading and writing is a great one.

Two minor quibbles with the book –

First, I wish Fish (sorry about the rhyme) had done more to distinguish reading and writing fiction sentences and reading and writing non-fiction sentences. Second, if you are going to publish a book about sentences, you need to keep the sentence present. It became annoying to constantly flip back and forth between the sentence and Fish’s commentary on it.


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