1. Lea`Brooks

    Lea`Brooks Contributor Contributor

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    Sentence length

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Lea`Brooks, Dec 11, 2016.

    I didn't really know where to post this, but I just wanted to share so I guess Insights & Inspiration is alright.

    I just thought this was really cool. It's something that people might not think about (I know I don't), but becomes so clear when it's laid out like this.

    Thoughts?

    9cef817.jpg
     
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  2. Mumble Bee

    Mumble Bee Keep writing. Contributor

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    Don't underestimate the boring. Lulling sentences have meaning too. Too many words mix messages. This closes the distance between us two. Closer, I'll draw you in. Deeper, just me and you. Here we are, tightly knit. Don't struggle, accept your fate. No escape, it's far too late. Blur the line. Am I me or you?



    Kidding though, totally agree with your post.
     
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  3. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Crikey. :wtf:

    I feel like I need a cigarette after that. :whistle: :-D
     
  4. Mumble Bee

    Mumble Bee Keep writing. Contributor

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    Yeah, my bad, that post is the literary equivalent of sexual assault.
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2016
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  5. Selbbin

    Selbbin The Moderating Cat Staff Contributor

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    Totally. Totally. The careful construction of sentence length and variety is just as important to the reading experience as the words and the story, in my opinion. Like the metaphor given, it's like the soundtrack to a film. The beat. The tone. The tension. Relaxation or drama can be created with sentence length and complexity. I'm glad this has been brought up because it isn't respected or understood enough.

    I use the technique most effectively in film scripts, where paragraph and sentence structure do a lot to convey the film's pacing. This is often not utilized / understood by other screenwriters.
     
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  6. SethLoki

    SethLoki Retired Autodidact Contributor

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    That's about right. Though for some they'd not have you in court. Sorry at OP that this is way far away from sentence length stuff but Selbbin's nailed it up there ^. There's a love song you've reminded me of @Mumble Bee :

    You have bound my heart with subtle chains
    So much pleasure that it feels like pain
    So entwined now that we can't shake free
    I am you and you are me

    No escaping from the mess we're in
    So much pleasure that it must be sin
    I must live with this reality
    I am yours eternally

    There's no turning back
    We're in this trap
    No denying the facts
    No, no, no
    No excuses to give
    I'm the one you're with
    We've no alternative
    No, no, no

    Dark obsession in the name of love
    This addiction that we're both part of
    Leads us deeper into mystery
    Keeps us craving endlessly

    Strange compulsions that I can't control
    Pure possession of my heart and soul
    I must live with this reality

    I am you and you are me
    I am you and you are me

    There's no turning back
    We're in this trap
    No denying the facts
    No, no, no
    No excuses to give
    I'm the one you're with
    We've no alternative
    No, no, no

    Beautiful yes. But imagine the recipient 'not-kinda-feeling-it'...all wide-eyed at the assumptions and no consolation in the discovery that they have the most crafted of stalkers.
     
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  7. antlad

    antlad Banned

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    Sentences get boring, you need to mix them up. IMO the best writers do this. I love to read books about crafting the sentence, it teaches you so much about everything else. Right now I am reading 'It Was the Best of Sentences, It Was the Worst of Sentences'. Learning all you can about crafting sentences, teaches you to craft paragraphs, chapters, stories, etc.
    A way that I used to practice writing sentences was to find those cheesy web pages that is just a horribly written sales letter, then I would rewrite it for myself.
     
  8. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    That says it really well, @Lea`Brooks .

    Sentence variation is one of those things I really work on during edits. It's not just an individual sentence—which might have sounded fine when I wrote it—it's what comes before and after that contributes to the overall flow. Choppy, same-length sentences are fine, but only when I'm going for a bumpy effect.
     
  9. 123456789

    123456789 Contributor Contributor

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    Big fan of Gary Provost, myself.
     
  10. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

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    Guessing he's terse?
     
  11. minstrel

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Supporter Contributor

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    Given the passage quoted in the first post, where did you get that idea? He's arguing against excessive terseness and for variety in sentence length.
     
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  12. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

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    Yeah, that was funnier in my head :(
     
  13. Iain Sparrow

    Iain Sparrow Banned Contributor

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    If you want long, and I mean ridiculously long sentences, read Joyce Carol Oates... reading her paragraph long sentences is like strolling through a minefield of semicolons, commas, dashes, quotes within quotes within quotes. I do actually really like her style. It's so not modern. She's like Charlotte Bronte, but with more humor.
     
  14. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    I used that in a style guide I wrote for my new workplace. I think it's a beautiful illustration of the importance of sentence length.
     
  15. S A Lee

    S A Lee Contributor Contributor

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    While sentences sound vary in length I have noticed that sentences do have a pattern parallel to breathing. Longer sentences denote a more relaxed pace, whereas tension is delivered best with shorter, more fragmented pacing.

    The first page of Michelle Paver's Wolf Brother is a prime example.
     
  16. Thomas Babel

    Thomas Babel Member

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    This is something I've been trying to focus on as well. I have a tendency toward longer, more verbose sentences. Took the "show not tell" principle a little too far and, if you think about it, "showing" usually takes more words than "telling".

    "Lyal scrambled down the steps as many more calls of the horn juggled the night air to a boil. Belabored lungs poured out a heavy sigh of relief as the lock turned on the front door, but it was cut short when his body thrust forward and crashed against the hard wood. The door's locking mechanism rattled with the sheer force of it. His teeth spread open against a mashed cheek. He began to scream when a gloved hand gripped his mouth, scratching with its rough seams. Unspeakable images of his own breaking neck washboarded Lyal's mind. He squirmed in vital fervor. The ring on his necklace dug into his ribs. All the pain of age was usurped by the will to simply survive."
     
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  17. Thomas Babel

    Thomas Babel Member

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    (I'm also a lyricist though, so I've had some practice with frugal wording).
     

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