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  1. #11
    Donald Lowery

    Re: Very Good, but Long Sentences

    Is it simply individual? Simply that some authors can express their thoughts better with long sentences, and some authors better with short sentences.

    When an author picks a very difficult subject to write about, does he/she require long sentences often, sometime, or not at all?

    I do notice that the children's books of today contain longer sentences (than when I was a boy), perhaps because the children are wanting more and their abilities are improved as a whole, I don't know.

  2. #12
    Bob Kellogg

    Re: Boredom

    The only sin is boring the reader.

    That's a short sentence. But if my novel contained only sentences like that, repitition would bore the reader. If I only created long, convoluted, sinuous, multi-layered thoughts expressed three or four different ways before letting the reader breathe, the poor reader would eventually tire of the effort in trying to understand what I was saying. If I kept that up page after page, I'd have to be pretty damned brilliant for a reader to put up with it for a whole book.

    The answer is variety; some short, some long. They must fit the thoughts, however. In general, short sentences are for action, long sentences are for contemplation. People don't contemplate when they're in the middle of action. And when they're resting, or waiting for someone to arrive, or contemplating a sunset, or remembering a lost love, or trying to get their breath after vanquishing a foe, they may think long thoughts. In a book, people think long thoughts in long sentences.

    That's how I see it, anyway.

    Bob K.

  3. #13
    Justin Morgan

    Re: Boredom

    Donald, I was attempting a play on words. But I liked everything you had to say. As well I liked Bob's 'contemplation' on the long sentence.

    Though I didn't have the exact same thought in mind as Bob K. I was thinking of "breaking the rules" in terms of the author in any book, ever in her life, describing to the reader a dishonest maneuver. Say for instance cheating on an exam. Running a red light. Willingly not returning the right change to a customer.

    I think ancient peoples might have practiced the skill of hideing suggested meaning in the technicalities of literary writing more then we do today. Even the Hebrew Bible is filled with such things e.g. numbers given in the stories. Emphasis or vagueness on persons. Even sentence length I would think.


  4. #14
    Ian Barker



    I loved the 37 page sentence, it was in The Rotter's Club by Jonathan Coe (Penguin Books, 2000)

    Why set limits? It only encourages you to break them.

    There's nothing wrong with "never" per se.

    And I trust WordPerfect more than most software.


  5. #15
    Yvonne Oots

    Re: Donald/Ian

    Ian, I am worried about you. YOU TRUST A COMPUTER. How brave.

  6. #16
    Karen Dionne

    For Ian

    I love my WordPerfect too, but you know what? WordPerfect made a mistake! According to my document summary, I have a 95 word sentence in my novel, and all this talk about long sentences made me go looking for it. (It didn't take that long to find it, btw, I just copied half the ms into a new file, did a word count, then kept narrowing it down until I found the right chapter. Compulsive? Oh, maybe just a little.) Anyway, here's my alleged 95 word 'sentence':

    "It galled her to think that after more than a year, his killers were still out there, going about their day-to-day affairs with impunity; eating, sleeping, making babies, doing all of the simple, ordinary things in life that Jeff had been robbed of. She understood that Washington was a city with over four hundred homicides a year, and that in Jeff’s case, there was precious little evidence for the police to go on, but it just didn’t seem right that one human being could take the life of another and not be called to account."

    Apparently WordPerfect can't recognize a sentence which ends in a preposistion. Which means that WordPerfect isn't quite so - perfect.


  7. #17
    Ian Barker

    Yvonne & Karen

    Yvonne, I didn't say I trusted the computer. I've worked with them for far too long to ever do that! I said I trust WordPerfect more than most software (which doesn't mean I trust it completely).

    And Karen, interesting that. I'm not compulsive enough to want to try and find my, alleged, 62 word sentence; but it's nice to know it may be a figment of the software's imagination :-)


  8. #18
    Bob Kellogg

    Re: Rigidity

    Software is rigid; at least, commercial software is. Expert systems and other attempts at artificial intelligence aren't as much, but they still contain code. Word Perfect doesn't like ending a sentence with a preposition? I used to have a few grammar rules, too. You know, like splitting an infinitive.

    But rigidity in rules is something up with which I will not put.

    Bob K.

  9. #19
    Nellie Butler

    Re: Rigidity and Bob

    Good example, Bob. You had me there for a minute. I wasn't looking for you to put some humor into that post, but I guess it isn't something of which I haven't heard.

  10. #20
    Justin Morgan

    Re: Rigidity and Bob


    That sentence is a perfect example of what I'm talking about! Well written also. I think you captured the *humanity* of being on the victims side of the family. Truely I do. Often I think people seem to take for granted, that the murderers of persons loved ones will somehow suffer imediately for the suffering they caused, for the crime committed. Not so, life can, and to often will be filled with simple joy and celibrations for the murder, or murderers.

    I know that was a bit off topic. But I had to give alcolades.


    I see too, we have a number of talented people here in the use of words - Bob and Nellie.


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