First You Write a Sentence.

First You Write a Sentence.

The Elements of Reading, Writing … and Life.



'Joe Moran is a wonderfully sharp writer, calm, precise and quietly comical' Craig Brown

Advanced maths has no practical use, and is understood by few. A symphony can be enjoyed, 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.

Enter universally praised historian Professor Joe Moran. From the Bible and Shakespeare to Orwell and Diana Athill, First You Write a us how the most ordinary words can be turned into verbal constellations, sharing:

- The tools of the trade; from typewriters to texting and the impact this has on the craft
- Writing and the senses; how to make the world visible and touchable
- How to find the ideal word, build a sentence, and construct a paragraph

Good writing can ignite the hearts and minds of readers, help us notice the world better and live more meaningful lives. And it's a power we all can wield.

'What a lovely thing this is: a book that delights in the sheer textural joy of good sentences . . . Any writer should read it' Bee Wilson

'Thoughtful, engaging, and lively . . . when you've read it, you realise you've changed your attitude to writing (and reading)' John Simpson, formerly Chief Editor of the OED and author of The Word Detective

'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

About the author

Joe Moran

Joe Moran is Professor of English and Cultural History at Liverpool John Moores University and is the author of seven books, including Queuing for Beginners: The Story of Daily Life from Breakfast to Bedtime, Armchair Nation: An Intimate History of Britain in Front of the TV, Shrinking Violets: The Secret Life of Shyness and First You Write a Sentence. He writes for, among others, the Guardian, the New Statesman and the Times Literary Supplement.
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