How to Write Short is a guide on writing concise yet powerful content in a limited space. It is particularly relevant in the digital age where impactful blogs and social media posts need to pack a punch quickly and measure up to the sophisticated expectations of the end user on the smallest screen. Clark divides the thirty-five short chapters into two parts: How to write short and How to write short with purpose. The book is similar to Help! For Writers and would be particularly useful for novice writers or for those who are starting to write in short forms and need strategies to make every word count.

Clark demonstrates the art of brevity by drawing on a myriad of short form writing sources. These include news reports from Twitter, historical speeches, clever parallelism from witty writers such as Oscar Wilde and Michael Pritchard, fortune cookie messages, lyrics from Tom Petty, an American haiku written by the Beat author Jack Kerouac, some surprisingly short political and cultural historical documents, and even a real ransom note. Clark divides the thirty-five short chapters into two parts: How to write short and How to write short with purpose.

A Sample of Lessons

  • Collect effective short writing pieces in a daybook; study each one and identify what makes them good.
  • Tweak the predictable phrase to surprise your reader (“One more drink and I’d have been under the host” – Dorothy Parker)
  • Practise the art of brevity by embedding jokes, satire, and humour into your writing.


About Roy Peter Clark
Roy Peter Clark is a senior scholar and vice president at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies (a well-known Journalism school and research organisation in Florida). Clark has published seven books on the writing craft, as well as authoring and editing several books on Journalism. Having taught writing for more than thirty years to students and organisations, he is often referred to as ‘America’s favourite Writing Coach’.

His first book, Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer, was published in 2006 (another five writing tools were added to a tenth-anniversary edition in 2016). His other books on the craft of writing include The Glamour of Grammar: A Guide to the Magic and Mystery of Practical English; Help! For Writers: 210 Solutions to the Problems Every Writer Faces; How to Write Short: Word Craft for Fast Times; Murder Your Darlings: And Other Gentle Writing Advice from Aristotle to Zinsser; The Art of X-Ray Reading: How the Secrets of 25 Great Works of Literature Will Improve Your Writing; and Tell It Like It Is: A Guide to Clear and Honest Writing.

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