How to write a sentence

February 9th, 2011

Most of us have played the game Mad Libs, in which you take a basic sentence structure and fill it in with silly or random words. While the game is meant to be fun and often frivolous, it contains within it some fundamental information about sentences. Sentences which are, after all, the infrastructure upon which we hang our words, ideas and understanding. Some would even argue that a great sentence might be a little like pornography. We know one when we see it, but do we really understand what gives it excitement and power?

Stanley Fish, in addition to being the author of twelve books, a law professor and NY Times columnist, is a sentence connoisseur.  His latest work is How to Write a Sentence: And How to Read One. My conversation with Professor Stanley Fish: