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It took me an hour to write one sentence.

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by druidofwinter, Dec 1, 2016.

  1. druidofwinter

    druidofwinter Sage

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    To be fair the sentence was 1107 words long. That's what I would like to hear from you guys on, sentence length. From what I have read, writers can have quite strong opinions in this area. If you're pro-short sentences you are described as falling in the Hemingway camp, and if you enjoy reading/writing longer sentences you are put in the Faulkner camp. Varying sentence length can make for better reading, but when do you all think one is getting too long (or too short)? We've all heard shorts are better in action sequences while longs are permissible in descriptions.
    I understand that 1107 is somewhat crazy, but I had to see if I could do it and then make any sense out of it.
    Do you guys have any favorite long or short sentences? Do you not care so long as you know what's going on?
     
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2016
  2. Jackarandajam

    Jackarandajam Troubadour

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    I'm a natural Faulkner with Hemingway envy, I think.

    I've been playing a writing game with myself lately; I take a paragraph of description and try to condense it into a sentence, Which is extremely difficult, but effective for condensing prose into neat, concise packages when necessary, as when writing a short story.

    I've been practicing condensing description into the smallest package possible; A difficult but rewarding exercise.

    I practice distilling my writing often; it's hard, but pays off.

    I try to condense my writing for practice.

    I practice condensing, when i can.

    I try not use words for fun.

    shrinkage cool.

    no use words.

    make tiny.
     
    Twinss Risen, Malik, Tom and 4 others like this.
  3. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Auror

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    I am in the "all over the board" camp. 1 - 50 word sentences. I am more naturally Faulkner, but I've worked my way into using more short, concise sentences. Action sequences in particular feel more natural that way, maybe it's the old Batman influence... Bam! Pow! Wham!

    For reading taste is the same as my writing, I want variety.
     
    cydare likes this.
  4. druidofwinter

    druidofwinter Sage

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    Ha! Nice.
    Also, interesting note about short stories. When writing with a deadline in mind, such as 250 words (super short), it's amazing how much fat you can cut. You really have to whittle down to the bare bones while building a clear picture in the reader's mind. Surprisingly similar to what you do in a long sentence, keep a clear picture in mind while at the same time exploring every aspect of that picture.
     
    spectre likes this.
  5. Peat

    Peat Sage

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    I was coming in here to commiserate because its taken me about a week to write three and I still haven't finished them yet but I see the topic is different to what I thought.

    I think I'm naturally a Faulkner who increasingly finds himself becoming more of a Steinbeck. I find it natural to include it all in one sentence but often find it reads better in multiple sentences. I like a good mix though.
     
    spectre likes this.
  6. spectre

    spectre Sage

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    Definitely Faulkner no matter what is being said. I constantly think back to high school English and condense what I can after a first draft, and I find it refreshing.

    Sent from my Alcatel_4060O using Tapatalk
     
  7. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    Pro-Writing-Aid, an online editing program, is continually criticizing me for short sentences. Though, every now and again, I'll toss in a long one, maybe forty or fifty words.
     
  8. Michael K. Eidson

    Michael K. Eidson Archmage

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    I sometimes write lengthy sentences, which is easy for me to do when I'm writing my first drafts, though I try, when editing, to break such long sentences into shorter sentences that are more easily digested, because as a reader, I hate losing the flow of logic in a sentence that never seems to end, which, when it happens, forces me to start reading the sentence from the very beginning so I can remember the starting conditions and better follow the logic, which may or may not even be there, really irritating me when it's not and I discover I've been reading garbage that the author thought would be a fun exercise to write, having no regard for the reader's time and giving no thought to how many trees would be killed if the junk were published in paperback or hardback form, which maybe isn't that big of a concern, especially in a case like this, where I'm writing on an online forum, which will likely never be published in print format. And sometimes I don't.
     
  9. Tom

    Tom Istar

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    I naturally lean toward longer sentences, but I've been making a conscious effort to vary their lengths. It creates a lot more contrast. When I'm writing academic papers I can get a bit long-winded, which I avoid when I'm writing fiction. Short sentences suit my current project a lot more. It's fast-paced and uses strong verbs and nouns and short bits of description to cut down on wordiness.
     
  10. I saw the title and thought, relatable :( then I read the rest and was like oh...
     
  11. druidofwinter

    druidofwinter Sage

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    Yeah, sorry about that.
    I am somewhat surprised, though, by the number of people who say they lean more towards longs. The conventional wisdom, at least that which I have gleaned from writing books, seems to encourage people more towards shorts. In our more mystery/thriller oriented cultural I supose that makes sense.
    I have always thought of fantasy as some of the most literary genre-fiction. Perhaps this is the influence of our grandfather Tolkien?
     
  12. Hmm. Well, currently I lean toward short sentences, but that's because of my narrator's voice (my main character) which doesn't lend itself to long sentences. In this next story I'm probably going to have very long sentences. So, yeah. My style shapeshifts with the project.

    Microsoft Word underlines your sentences for being "too long" if they're over 60 words. I've had it happen a couple times, so apparently my writing style does not ALWAYS lean toward short sentences.
     
  13. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

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    I admire Hemmingway and like to keep things concise.

    Write the most interesting story in the simplest possible way.
     
  14. I've only ever read one of his books (high school English two years ago), but was more impressed by his writing style than that of any other writer (except maybe G.K. Chesterton.) I tried to imitate him and failed terribly. He truly was a master wordsmith.
     
  15. Jackarandajam

    Jackarandajam Troubadour

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    I just finished The Old Man And The Sea; audible book narrated by Donald Sutherland.
    Amazing.
     
  16. Caged Maiden

    Caged Maiden Staff Article Team

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    Last week, I'd have balked at a sentence more than about 30 words long. I use those sentences sometimes, but nothing more than that.

    However...

    Just few days ago I read a whole scene that was one long sentence. And as much as I cringed the first time I read it, feeling it was an overkill and deprived me of those pauses that it takes to breathe...I realized my mind didn't need to breathe, and that the pacing of the sentence actually added to the effect. I'm not sure how to describe the scene itself. It wasn't quite erotic, but it was an intimate event that probably spanned a half hour of real-world time, but the way it was distilled, I got the sense of a flurry of movement and a sense of the person's tension as they acted throughout the encounter. It gave me a sense of what their mind must have been feeling.

    So, while I would estimate the scene was no more than two-hundred words long, I am impressed that I liked it, even though I would never write that way.

    If you're writing a story in which you frequently change the pacing to fit the actions, which I do, it probably doesn't make much sense to somewhere put in a super huge sentence in an otherwise "normal" narrative.

    If, however, it was a piece of flash about one encounter (of any kind, not specifically the one in the example), it definitely had a stylistic statement to make. And I actually responded well to it, for a person who previously would have laughed at the concept.

    I guess my advice and opinion on this matter would be that it has to serve a purpose and fit the story, and then to let the words be what they need to be.
     
  17. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Staff Leadership

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    I'm all over the map, from one word paragraphs to truly labyrinthine sentences, in my mind, though I admit I've never inspired Word to underline anything on the basis of length. It all really depends on the narrative flow, the POV, and what's happening in a given scene.

    And for the record, much as I despise Hemingway, he did get some things right.
     
  18. psychotick

    psychotick Auror

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    Hi,

    I too like longer sentences, but then some of my favourite writing is golden age sci fi and earlier - long before this current style of short, punchy prose with lots of action came in to vogue.But my editor is younger than me and tries to modernise me a little, and slowly I'm adapting. I will never hit the modern mark, but my sentences now usually have less clauses in them.

    To me a lot of the issues in this issue have nothing to do with better or worse writing, not even with clarity as proponents of shorter sentences often claim, and much more to do with fashion in writing. And fashions come and go.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  19. I just started a new book today :)D) and my first sentence is 31 words long.
     
    SaltyDog likes this.
  20. SaltyDog

    SaltyDog Sage

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    Nice! And congrats!
     
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