1. DefinitelyMaybe
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    DefinitelyMaybe Contributing Member Contributor

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    Deliberate use of choppy sentences?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by DefinitelyMaybe, Sep 5, 2012.

    It's a characteristic of my writing that I sometimes like a stream of very short "sentences", some with only one word.

    An example written just for this thread (I'm not trying to get around the ban on posting your own work until two weeks is up - honest) would be something like this.

    OK - the content of that is non-fiction. But that is the kind of structure I like to use occasionally.

    According to "rules" that I have seen, if you ever have four lines with fewer lines than sentences, you have choppy sentences. But as in the above example, I will occasionally have four "sentences" in a single line. I could rewrite this to be:

    The first sentence isn't grammatical (I think), but rewriting it further takes it too far from the first example. To me, the second version lacks the rhythm given by the longer pauses for sentences. It's not as punchy. And there's less contrast with the longer sentences that follow.

    I'd very much like to hear the opinions of other people concerning this.
     
  2. prettyprettyprettygood
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    prettyprettyprettygood Active Member

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    I think the deliberate use of choppy sentences is pretty common- certainly in the types of books I like to read as I see it often. I do think it should be used very sparingly though, otherwise it both loses its dramatic effect and becomes an irritating read. As always, it's all about moderation :)
     
  3. DefinitelyMaybe
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    DefinitelyMaybe Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thank you.

    (I tried to think of a more consequential follow-up, but couldn't think of anything more to say. Your answer hits the question on the head)
     
  4. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    sorry, but i can't make any sense out of that.. how can a 'line' have 'lines'?

    however, there is no universal 'rule' regarding how many short sentences one is allowed to have in sequence... what one writer can pull off successfully may totally bomb when another tries it...

    the proof is in the pudding, my friend... write what you feel needs to be written in the way it wants to be... then read it over as if you are your worst enemy and see if it worked...
     
  5. DefinitelyMaybe
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    DefinitelyMaybe Contributing Member Contributor

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    Sorry, I wasn't clear. Imagine that you have four lines, with five or more sentences in them. Or eight lines with nine or more sentences in them. If you have fewer lines than sentences, and the number of lines is more than the number of sentences in those lines, then the rule is broken.

    It wasn't presented as a rule that should never be broken, just a general rule of thumb.

    I frequently break it. But for the sake of practice, the next writing I do will have longer, flowing, sentences.
     
  6. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    This doesn't make sense since the number of lines in a document can change based on the size of the margins.
     
  7. DefinitelyMaybe
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    DefinitelyMaybe Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well yes, it was a rough rule of thumb.
     
  8. catchkatch
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    catchkatch New Member

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    I agree that they're fine, but do use them relatively sparingly. Four in a row might be a bit much, IMO, especially if you're going to have only one-to-three-word sentences. Wait, unless you're doing it in direct speech, because oral speech patterns are usually more chaotic that regular written text.

    Also, if you wanted to know, the official term for them is 'fractured sentences' or 'fragmented sentences'. (It's when there's some element missing--e.g. subject, object, action etc--that makes the clause dependent, even though it's on it's own in it's own sentence.)

    And, hahaha.Thirdwind: the devil's advocate!
     

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