Joe Moran

Books Karolina Sutton, +44 (0)20 7393 4428 Email Karolina Sutton

First You Write A Sentence

book | 2018
World → Penguin (Ed. Daniel Crewe)

Advanced maths has no practical use, and is understood by few. A symphony can be widely appreciated, but created only by a genius. Good writing, however, can be written (and read) by anyone if we give it the gift of our time. And a sentence might be as near as many of us will get to orchestrating beauty.

Enter universally praised historian Professor Joe Moran. Using minimal technical terms, First You Write a Sentence is his unpedantic explanation of how the most ordinary words can be turned into verbal constellations of extraordinary grace. With examples from the Bible and Shakespeare to Orwell and Diana Athill, and with support from scientific studies of what most fires people's minds, he shows how we can all write in a way that is vivid, clear and engaging.

With chapters from tools of the trade (from typewriters to texting and the impact this has on the craft); and writing and the senses (how to make the world visible and touchable); to how to find the ideal word, build a sentence, and construct a paragraph, First You Write a Sentence informs by light example. It's an elegant gem in praise of the English sentence.


First You Write a Sentence is an often impassioned attempt to get us to take sentences seriously ... Moran is advocating attentiveness, deliberateness, absorbedness, slow and studied craft, pushing against ‘the glib articulacy of a distracted age’. Sentences are — they should be — ‘a gift’.

The Spectator

Exquisite . . . Moran's own sentences are so deliciously epigrammatic that I considered giving up chocolate in favour of re-reading this book.


Karolina Sutton
+44 (0)20 7393 4428
Email Karolina Sutton