1. VRaptorX
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    VRaptorX Member

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    Is it wrong to love making run on sentences on purpose?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by VRaptorX, Nov 15, 2012.

    I think they can make really work if you want something to sound dingy, dirty and post-apocalyptic.

    examples from my work:

    1) A long caravan of bony, starving people, wearing tattered clothes and smog masks trudge away from the inferno through a sand storm, accompanied by gunpoint at their flanks by the soldiers decked in jet black form-fitting body armor and gas masks with tinted black glass marching beside them.

    2) A rusty monorail train, with barred windows and sheets of various metals bolted over one another in patchwork, glides along a monorail track suspended high above the undulating city streets where steam rises from manholes, weaving in, out and around the various decrepit skyscrapers of the oil-punk city of Veca, where the only light comes from neon signs advertising carnal pleasures or from burning trash cans.

    3) Rain thrusts his hardened uncircumcised genitalia though the holey underwear into Lydia's matted bush, taking Lydia off her feet, ergo she locks her hairy legs around his waist, her eyes rolling back and her mouth drooling, intoxicated with the animalistic, rapacious pelvic punches delivered to her womb, brereathing her of air as each thrust slams her back into the locker, making an insurmountable racket.

    To explain that last one, I figured shaving cream would be in very short supply. I try my best to make the dirty feeling of the world prominent as much as possible.

    But anyway, on to the point. I really enjoy making these run on sentences on purpose. Is that frowned upon? Because I've seen books where "bang." is considered a real sentence. But I haven't seen anything outside of bad translations to ye olde epic poems actually have paragraph long sentences.
     
  2. JJ_Maxx
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    JJ_Maxx Banned

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    It works, but is it necessary? It seems bloated to me. Take your first example:

    Remove all the grandiose verbage and descriptors and the bone is:

    We had a good conversation about this in another thread and I'll see if I can find it, but the crux of the matter was that you should find a happy medium between your example and the bones. Adjectives are like chocolate, very sweet in small doses and sickenening in large quantities. ;)

    ~ J. J.
     
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  3. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Run on sentences can work, some of these don't simply because some elements are kept too far away from what they're modifying.

    A long caravan of bony, starving people, in tattered clothes and smog masks trudge away from the inferno through a sand storm, accompanied at
    gunpoint by soldiers decked in jet black, form fitting body armor and gas masks with tinted black glass, marching beside them.

    See how far away - marching beside them is from soldiers it almost gets lost at the end of the sentence.

    Maybe - A long caravan of bony, starving people, in tattered clothes and smog masks trudge away from the inferno through a sand storm,
    prodded on at gunpoint by soliders marching beside them. They were ominous figures in their jet black, form fitting body armor and
    matching gas masks.
     
  4. Thumpalumpacus
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    Thumpalumpacus Contributing Member

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    I'm very cautious with run-ons, and generally only use them when I use stream-of-consciousness. Aside from that circumstance, I generally avoid them where possible.
     
  5. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Agree for the most part. If I have to stop and take a breath while reading it out loud, it's too long.
     
  6. Andrae Smith
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    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

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    A run-on, by default, is one that presents too many ideas in one poorly constructed sentence. Longer sentence chains can be used, and very effectively, but the structure must be sound. The example above have too many descriptors and could really be reorganized to keep such descriptors closer to their antecedents. Be The third sentence is an example that is well structured but presents too many ideas, thus it is a run on and should be broken into at least two simpler sentences. I understand what you were trying to do, but if the reader needs to take a breath mid-sentence [as in the 3rd example], or try to solve the puzzle of what's being described [as is the case in the second], then there is a problem. As mentioned above, why does the first example need so much description in one sentence.

    In sum, 'Run-on' sentences describe bad writing, not the use of eloquent and elongated sentence chains. There is nothing wrong with the latter form of writing, so long as it maintains balance with simple sentences. Without the balance, it becomes easy for readers to lose sight or interest in the action of the scene you are describing. A run-on sentence should never be used because it is a poorly constructed sentence that presents a clutter of ideas. It is only really acceptable in stream-of-consciousness, because it does have a natural flow with the thought process. But in most cases, it is much more practical to practice combinations of simple, compound, and complex sentences that get the point across without overloading on or mixing up adjectives, adverbs, and prepositions.

    I don't think anyone, who was in their right mind as determined by a psychologist, who got his prestigious PhD from Harvard 20 yrs ago and is now working in a local high school as a testimony to his failure in his field, would really find this overly verbose and ostentatiously overblown sentence to be particularly interesting, unless like me, they shared a intrinsic passion for cramming as many convoluted ideas into one adequately constructed [as determined by know one in particular] sentences and aspired--like many of us here-- to be great writers in a world where everyone who writes a short story in high school thinks they have what it really takes to be an author, when we all know that they could really use some work because their grammar is terrible and their sentences, consequently, are weak and pointless.
     
  7. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Actually, no. What you're describing is a rambling marathon of a sentence, and usually it is a bad idea. A sentence should act like a sentence, by expressing a single thought, idea, or action. It should not try to do the work of a paragraph or a chapter.

    A run on sentence is two or more sentences not separated by punctuation this is a run on sentence.
     
  8. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    I use them rarely, and carefully, but they can be effective. Pace is an important part of the process, and sometimes run-on sentences can feel like you are rushing the information and just telling us everything rather than constructing the scene, yet dragging out the pace and slowing the action down.

    Your examples were too verbose, had redundant words, and were tiring to read.

    The longest I have is a paragraph, with no punctuation, which was deliberate to give the reader a sense of exhaustion and being overwhelmed, but it wasn't overly descriptive, just run on actions. I'd post it here as an example but it is too graphic.
     
  9. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    It isn't intrinsically "wrong" to use any kind of sentence. Everything has some function, especially in an art form as limitless as writing. You have to be very sure of what you're doing, though. I suppose if you're asking whether it's okay, you should be careful.
     
  10. Andrae Smith
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    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

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    yes you are right, I've been given both "definitions" in English class. I was just going with the one I that I was told to work with. Your definition is the simplest form, I was given mine in an AP class, wherein smaller run-on's like your example weren't very common and everyone was trying to use longer sentence chains. I don't disagree with you, though, you've been at this far longer than I have. I hope I'm not coming across as arrogant or as a charlatan on here. I only want to help where I think I can. :)
     
  11. Fatback
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    Fatback Banned

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    Wanna know what I think? Well too bad, I'm gonna tell you anyways... I think you enjoy elongated sentences for pedantic reasons. Rambling sentences don't add to the atmosphere or cater to a setting of any story... All that is truly accomplished is a thoroughly stroked ego and a group of thoroughly annoyed readers. Also posting your fetish fantasy on this site is only awesome if your fantasy is sexy.... Leg hair?..... Not very sexy... Never actually thought I would have to say that in my lifetime.
     
  12. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i'm with jjmaxx and cog on this... as an editor, those mind-numbing sentences would never get past my red pen!... and as a reader, i'd drop the book like a hot rock, if i saw those in my in-store check to see if it's worth plunking down good money for...
     
  13. Fivvle
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    Fivvle Contributing Member

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    I don't know... I rather like them, actually.
    I mean, you can do whatever the hell you want in writing.
     
  14. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    What consenting independent clauses get up to in private is none of our business, but we don't want to see that sort of thing in public!

    As others have pointed out, what you have there are not run-on sentences, they are rambling sentences. It's quite possible to make sentences of that sort of length work well; lots of writers do it. Some readers like it, some don't. But the key is "make it work", which needs a good understanding of the effects of different clause structures (or an incredibly good intuitive ear for it). Your sentences say "trying to show off (and failing)."
     
  15. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    I must say that I agree with Fatback about the 3rd example you posted. The first two examples aren't too bad at all...the sentences are long but not in a bad way, in my opinion, because they made sense to me and I can see how that tone gives the setting a hazier feel. Sure they were a little verbose and could use some editing, but overall, I don't think it's a pretentious and hard-to-read style. But the sex scene was just very off, to be honest. I won't go into detail, but certain things jump out as being technically out of place. As a general guideline, if you aren't very experienced with that kind of stuff, then a "less is more" approach when writing it is generally wisest. (And it's not just the hair that raised eyebrows)
     
  16. Rose85
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    Rose85 New Member

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    I couldn't agree more with Fatback. You can put an infinite amount of clauses in a sentence and it could still be grammatically correct. Who would want to try to follow sentences that are logically hard to follow?
     
  17. JJ_Maxx
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    JJ_Maxx Banned

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    Well, there's just no reason you can't add some periods.

    Does it really detract from this peice to give us bite-size peices? Prevents choking hazards.

    That's rubbish but it nicely cuts it up.
     
  18. VRaptorX
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    VRaptorX Member

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    1) it was just an example of my run on sentences

    2) It is not my fantasy. I am only making the world consistent. I want people to go, "ew, gross" at that. It is annoying having primal, near dark ages worlds in a post apocalyptic setting and magically every man and woman is clean shaven fashion models. Tell me, where do the endless supply of shaving cream come from in a desert/volcanic region where people barely have enough food to not starve to death? The most I could see is someone using a knife, but that will just make the hair prickly because you will never be able to cut close enough and you will have lots of cuts.

    3) as for the length of the sentences, I'm going for 1 line = 1 second. I wanted X number of seconds before the next action takes place. Now this website has a different setting so it takes less space right now.

    4) hair not the only iffy part? Oh...I get it. The slab of meat thing? Yeah. Once again, just world building. In this world they have panels that the dead can walk on, so essentially every religion ever is wrong. So basically their is no morality because most people basically go "**** it" to the rules. There was a discussion earlier about those who take by force, and those who take by mind. Essentially this scene could be viewed two ways. Either you are going the Red Scarlet route with "I only like someone who can best me in battle" or you are going with "she is letting him, because as long as she lets him do this, she can make him do anything she wants to anyone else." And considering later stuff in the story, it's pretty much the latter.
     
  19. Fife
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    Fife Senior Member

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    This actually doesn't appear to be a runon sentence, so I would say you are okay in that regard. It's just really difficult to understand as a reader. As the author of your story, you have an advantage of already having the imagery in your mind. Like a mathematician that knows the equations, formulas, and equations to solve a system of problems, you can potentially overwhelm your audience by throwing too much at once on the chalk board, so to speak.

    A rusty monorail train with barred windows and sheets of various metals bolted over one another in patchwork. It glides along a monorail track suspended high above the undulating city streets where steam rises from the manholes and weaves in and out and around the various decrepit skyscrapers. This is Veca, the oil-punk city where the only light comes from neon signs.

    Here is one of many ways you can divide the divide your long-winded sentence into three section without compromising your language (too much). It allows for the reader to take a break. I'm not a psychology guy, but my intuition tells me that we as people, socially, have a threshold for how much information we can take in. My wife sometimes gets on conversation binges where she tells me about her day "So yesterday... [blha blah blah blah blah blah blah] ...what do you think?" I typically only hear the first few words and the last few words.

    Rain thrusts his hardened uncircumcised genetalia through the holey underwear into Lydia's matted bush, taking Lydia off her feet. Ergo she locks her hair legs around his waist. Her eyes roll back and her mouth drools, intoxicated with the animalistic, rapacious pelvic punches delivered to her womb, brereathing (sp?) her of air. Each thrust slams her back into the locker, making an unsurmountable racket.

    I don't understand how my example (one of many hundreds, I'm sure) would not work. The problem I see is that in building your tower of a sentence, you compromise potential opportunities to use active sentences. I think active sentences are more vivid. I believe that in action scenes, be it suspense, violence or sex, it is better to use shorter, active sentences. Why? Because as a storyteller, you capture the essence of time slowing down and adrenaline taking over. That's just me, though.

    If you want to make narrative sound dingy, dirty, and post-apocalyptic, you might consider first-person, where the character has a certain grit to his tone.

    When you use long-winded sentences (in my opinion), you compromise many things.

    That being said, you are your own brand. If you can make it work and people enjoy your writing, then there's nothing wrong with it. At the end of the day, we are all really just talking about storytelling. In my culture, men tell stories where they make a lot of sound-effects and elongate words: the equivalent of "Loooooooooooooooooooooooooong time agoooooooooooooooo..." or the equivalent of "and then he WHOOOOOOOSH and WIIIIIIIIISH and VROOOOM!". For the most part, they get their point across. As long as you get your point across and make the reader feel what you intended them to feel, you did a good job in my book.
     
  20. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    The fact that you feel you need to justify a woman not shaving her legs shows that it's a fantasy. Lots of women don't shave their legs or only do so for special occasions: not because they can't get shaving cream, but because there are more important things to them than pandering to male sexual desires. And those that want to still pair up with men who are perfectly happy with them not shaving their legs; sure, those men would probably like the woman to have smoother legs, but there are more important things in a relationship than that (like the fact that she doesn't spend all her time in the bathroom, for instance). Try going out and looking at all of the women on the street, on the bus, on the subway, not just the ones you find hot. You'll discover that there are lots of women who are not making a huge effort to look good to men (and many of them look fine anyway). You have created a world in which the primary objective of all women is to be sexually attractive to men. That's a fantasy. (That's not to say you shouldn't write that fantasy -- it's part of most blockbusters -- but you should be aware that it's fantasy and there is a moral question involved.)

    In short, unshaven legs on a woman do not need a post-apocalyptic justification.
     
  21. VRaptorX
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    So...are we skipping over the part where I also specify that the guy is uncircumcised? Is that also part of the fantasy? No, it's just "grittier." It fits the world. If it took place in a highly aquatic world, everyone would need to have short hair so it won't snag on something under water. Would that be fantasy? No. That is practicality.

    When designing a world, you need to think of the every day lives of the characters, not just, "oh no one will recognize that." Because when you don't think of all the options, you end up with Elder Scrolls Skyrim where somehow hundreds of guards are dying from a dragon blast but somehow the little 4 year old kid gets hit dead on with the fireball and isn't even scratched. It's not because you want the kid to die, it is because the kid being impervious doesn't fit.

    And if by your logic, women only shave their legs to pander to men....why the heck are you saying that unshaven legs, the polar opposite of said pandering, is somehow solely designed to make every woman a sex object?

    Please leave the Freud crap out of this. The man took huge leaps in logic to the point where if you were to say, "hey, you look like my mom" he'd suggest that you had some hidden incest feelings. Or you know....the person may look just like your mom. Everyone has their double. What happens if someone says "hey that cat looks like the mine"? Because you know, there is no way to possibly have two cats in the world that look alike. No sir. According to Freud everyone in the world would be a closet furry.

    I simply dislike some rules of post apocalyptic movies. In a world where everything is in short supply, the never ending supply of shoulder pads, shaving products and hair gel for you giant mo-hawk never diminish. The future is full of poor starving people who somehow don;t have an once of dirt on them and they make 80's rockers look subtle. Does no one else see the huge logic problem in that scenario?
     
  22. Thumpalumpacus
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    Thumpalumpacus Contributing Member

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    I think this is an excellent point. It's not much different than characters on a long fantasy quest never stinking, even though they've been wearing the same padding under their armor for forty-eight days.

    I think such details have a place in some stories. I also think that such details belong in the small nooks of the story, in most cases.
     
  23. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    You need to see a better range of post-apocalyptic movies. Some of the best do not pander to the last lot of gripes. The Road is a well known example, but Threads is a brilliant depiction of a post-nuclear war society without 80s glam rockers and s&m body armour. Just misery, disease, and death.
     

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