Parole Me From This Sentence!

Published by Cogito in the blog Cogito's blog. Views: 142

One of the prevalent scourges of beginning writers, and also some more seasoned ones, is the endless sentence which tries to tell entire chapter of a story, or at least fully describe a scene, all at once, even though it contains several independent thoughts which should be split into separate, simpler sentences.

Are you breathless yet? We are taught to despise simple sentences. See Dick. See Dick Run. See Jane laugh. Dick is silly.

But simple sentences needn't sound like baby talk. A simple sentence has impact. A punch delivers.

Sentence length affects the pace of a story. Short sentences convey action and urgency. Longer sentences roll along, taking their time, so work better during periods of rest or waiting. Save longer sentences for when your characters are tossing and turning, trying to find sleep while thye day's events are keeping them awake. When characters are waiting in the lounge while a close friend is undergoing surgery, they will notice the scuffed dirty carpet and the cracked celing tile.

But not during a fight. They shoot. They dive for cover. Your hero parries, then stabs.

Regardless of the pace, though, sentences should end. A sentence should convey a single idea or action. At most it should contain two closely related actions, joined in a sentence to emphasize their relationship.

So don't subject your readers to a sentence longer than OJ or Robert Blake has had to endure!
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