1. waitingforzion
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    waitingforzion Active Member

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    How do you write a nice, long sentence?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by waitingforzion, Jun 3, 2016.

    I am very much familiar with the elements of grammar. I probably need only to read more widely to add to my repertoire the small number of structure I do not know. Therefore my question is not "how do I learn learn new ways of structuring sentences"", but "how do I use the ways I already know to create long sentences which are clear and pleasant to read?"

    I am well aware of the advice that is prevalent these days, which opposes the use of long sentences, but such advice is not acceptable to me, for it is important for me, whether I write long sentences or short, to be able to write long ones, and them clearly.

    So my question is, how to write a long sentence in such a way that, when read from beginning to end, it is easily and fully understood, revealing its content from clause to clause in the most effective order?

    What are some strategies, besides writing a completely tangled up sentence and revising it, to accomplish such a feat?
     
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  2. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Writing a completely tangled up sentence and revising it is quite likely to be one of the useful strategies. You seem to have trouble with the idea of trying something, trying to improve it, and having any risk at all that it can't be improved. I think that you need to get past that fear.

    You are trying to write in a way that is not common and not popular. There will be very little, in terms of either advice or examples, for the kind of writing that you want. You are going to have to experiment, and fail, and experiment, and fail, for quite a long time, before you reach success. If you demand a pre-assurance of success, you will never begin.

    Question: Do you have an example of the kind of long sentence you have in mind? You have often pointed to the Bible, but it tends to have fairly short sentences. So an example would be useful.
     
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  3. waitingforzion
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    waitingforzion Active Member

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    I am not so inclined right now to write in the style of the King James Bible, but intend to work on that later on. However, one sentences comes to mind, the one in the Book of Ephesians starting at verse three.

    I simply want to learn how to write clearly and poetically, having for the present time a higher priority on writing clear, long sentences, knowing that such a skill will help me to write an effective sentence of any length.

    So you are saying the best way to write a clear, long sentence is to revise one that is tangled up?
     
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2016
  4. izzybot
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    izzybot Human Disaster Contributor

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    Varied punctuation. The sentences of yours that I've read really only seem to utilize commas, when you could be throwing dashes, parentheses, and semicolons into the mix. Personally, I consider long sentences a bad habit of mine, and I'm always telling myself to chop them into short, more edible pieces, but I'll grab an example from a wip (keeping in mind that my style completely lacks the verbosity of yours).

    Varied punctuation: commas, dashes, and a semicolon. But keep in mind that these things also slow down your sentence - I could have a comma after 'limited' and one after 'outside', but I felt like more pauses was bad for the flow of the sentence. Actually, in the current draft I've replaced the semicolon with a period, because again, I'm trying to thin out the lengthy sentences.

    Which is the thing. Frankly, I wouldn't recommend writing this way - like I said, I consider rambling a flaw in my own writing. I've ended up with so many appositives and parentheticals in a sentence that by the time I get to the end of it I've forgotten where it started. What hope does a reader have? Sometimes long sentences are fitting, but you don't want all them to be long. It's exhausting. Your reader needs periods to breathe.
     
  5. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Read Marcel Proust.
     
  6. Earp
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    Earp Active Member

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    I think sentences more or less determine their own length, depending on whqat you want them to say and how you want to say it. Choosing the sentence length beforehand seems like wasted effort which will end up making your writing less 'poetic' rather than more.
     

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