1. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    Sentences

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by cutecat22, Jun 23, 2016.

    OK, I know what people think we *should* do in terms of the number of words in sentences, but what I want to know, is what do you personally think?

    Are you into short choppy sentences, or long sentences?

    And I don't want to start a mass argument based on what the leading authority on writing thinks should be written ... I decided a long time ago to know the rules and break every single one ... I want to know what you think. (And are you brave enough to write the way you want to write if you are in the rule-breaker camp?)

    For the record, I like commas. Which means I like long sentences that make my stories flow like a babbling brook, taking the reader on a lush meander through the pages of my imagination.

    I hate short, choppy said/did/move on sentences.

    My editor and betas do pick up on some of my longer ones, and I do actively take their thoughts into account. But on the whole, I sneak them in where I can!
     
  2. ReproveTheCurlew
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    ReproveTheCurlew Member

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    Depends entirely on the mood you are creating, and to what effect. Personally I have the tendency only to write lengthy sentences, so I have to force myself to cut them short. I'm especially fond of the semicolon, although, in some cases, it can be replaced by a full stop. But generally I wouldn't say that either is better on the whole; as I said, it depends on what you are doing. Generally I grow quite tired when I only read short sentences, although that seems to be the more popular way to write at the moment (please shoot me if I'm wrong, I don't read much contemporary fiction).
     
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  3. izzybot
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    izzybot Human Disaster Contributor

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    I like a good mixture of the two, but I do get tired of choppy sentences a lot more quickly. I used to (hopefully not still!) have a very melodramatic style and felt that short, brutal sentences were the way to go, but I was overusing them and they stopped having any real impact right away. I think I'm still a little fatigued on that type of sentence from that time period, hahah. Now I have the problem of really long, meandering sentences, so I'm trying to find the happy medium and good mixture that I prefer to read. At this point it seems more likely that I'll end up on the longer sentences side of things, overall.
     
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  4. mashers
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    mashers Senior Member

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    Sentences? Useless! Words? Awesome! :p
     
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  5. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    The length of a sentence depends on the purpose of the writing. I don't see how there could be any universal rules that aren't wrapped around with dozens of conditions and considerations.
     
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  6. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    I honestly don't think there is a right or wrong answer on this one. But I do think times and styles change, almost like fashions change. And of course, readers' themselves change and want the option to read different styles.
     
  7. Elven Candy
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    Elven Candy Contributing Member

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    I don't worry or even think about sentence length unless it feels off when I read it. Normally that happens when I'm doing an emotional scene and a long sentence cuts the emotion, or when I'm doing a peaceful scene and a short sentence adds unwanted tension.
     
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  8. SethLoki
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    SethLoki Unemployed Autodidact Contributor

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    Fashions and change aside. Isn't this a literary device? I've not investigated but I believe choppier sentences imbue a perceived pace and encourage a reader to speed up. Possibly because (on a like for like basis) in their conciseness they're easier to comprehend and indicate too that the author's moving away from description—tending towards action or progression. I'd be interested to know for sure as presently I'm using this and the only basis I've just realised is intuition.

    Acid test would be a timed reading of two pieces (equal word count and long enough to get a measure) that contain the same degree of info/story and progression. One choppy short sentences the other more convoluted by way of commas, semi-colons...etc.
     
  9. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I mix it up but my sentences are on average probably shorter. And they tend to be a little offbeat. Like starting with And. I also like dashes and dropping pronouns.

    My style can be a little to-ones taste because I like to experiment, and in doing so am not always sure how to handle punctuation.
     
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  10. Brindy
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    Brindy Contributing Member Supporter

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    I don't worry too much about the rules, I just write as it flows, not to any format that someone may have decided is today's style. I also like commas and only really notice a long sentence when the spellchecker highlights it - then, more often than not, I click ignore and carry on with the next sentence, be it long or short depending on what seems best.
     
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  11. Lifeline
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    Lifeline The Dark - not in Wonderland Supporter Contributor

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    I tend to write on the short side of sentence length, mostly depending on if there is physical action going on or not. If there are things moving, interspersed with character thoughts you will find me more often than not describing the moving parts with shorter sentences than the internal dialogue. I don't like to mix these two within one sentence. Usually internal dialogue is faster (i.e I think more densely than the happenings around me), and that is reflected in my writing.
    I am also not into lyrical descriptions (*ahem* not regarding some critiquers who say the exact opposite :rolleyes:), apart from very special circumstances.

    Pacing is an entirely different issue, fight scenes of course flow a whole lot faster i.e with even shorter sentences. That just comes naturally, and internal thoughts are almost absent or very abbreviated there. But that is another paw of a kitten.
     
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  12. ashurbanipal
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    ashurbanipal Member

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    Sentence length isn't too important to me, but I do like to read 'lyrical' prose. I like to enjoy the artistic quality of a work, as well as just finding out how the story goes. If the sentences are too choppy, it can come across like a newspaper, but overwritten prose isn't much fun to read either.

    I was reading about Charles Dickens and his writing style - some say he overwrites, others say 'every word counts'. I found the following example (Great Expectations - Chapter 16), and I find it to be superfluous and wouldn't really be acceptable in modern writing:

    'With my head full of George Barnwell, I was at first disposed to believe that I must have had some hand in the attack upon my sister, or at all events that as her near relation, popularly known to be under obligations to her, I was a more legitimate object of suspicion than any one else. But when, in the clearer light of next morning, I began to reconsider the matter and to hear it discussed around me on all sides, I took another view of the case, which was more reasonable.'

    I think his lengthy sentences show a lot of redundancy. The same could have be expressed in fewer words and perhaps more elegantly (by today's standards, if such a thing exists).
     
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  13. BC Barry
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    BC Barry Member

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    I personally tend to write in longer sentences since my thoughts always seem to be longer. It just flows easier and feels more like thoughts developing in my mind than someone feeding me facts.

    As a reader, I dislike short choppy sentences. I spent the first six years of my son's life reading short choppy sentences to him and always feel that the author is dumbing it down for me when there are too many. It makes it difficult to immerse myself in the story and to live through the characters.

    But that's just my personal preference. Or maybe my own insecurities? :D
     
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