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It took me an hour to write one sentence.

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

  1. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

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    I'm in the Faulkner camp looking over the fence at the Hemmingway camp with wanderlust.

    The problem is that I've always been addicted to semicolons. I suppose the early training from high school played a role; the semicolon "ties" two related independent clauses, and by gosh all my clauses relate. In my head.

    When writing informally, like here on MS, I let myself go on and on quite a bit. But for the longest time, I've consciously reined in my impulsive use of semicolons and complex sentences in my other writing. I find myself reading so many articles, blog posts, and the like online which do wonders with very simple sentences. A lot of fiction does just fine in that regard, also. So I have some envy.
     
  2. I'm with you here too, despite my great admiration of Hemingway. LOOOOVE semicolons. Almost to a fault.
     
  3. How does the stylistic use of fragments play into this topic? 'Short sentence' people are more likely to use them, no?
     
  4. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

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    Yes. Sentence fragments are something I use all the time. Here is an excerpt....

    (For context)

    My dad keeps cash stashed all over our place, sometimes in peanut butter jars, though he saves those for the yard. Sometimes he uses old tomato sauce cans or shoe boxes. But often he uses carved out books.

    He likes novels with nautical themes, like Moby Dick, or The Pilot, or Das Boot, but he also has a ton of historical romance books, the kind with shirtless men holding fainting women on the cover. He doesn’t actually read any of them; it’s just where he stashes his money.


    And how I might use that (and sentence fragments) to write a scene:

    He didn’t even flinch. I wanted him to flinch. I wanted him to cower and bow down before me and apologize until his knees bled.

    "What happened to her?” I was screaming now. Screaming and shaking and throwing more books. “What happened?” Das Boot.

    “Where is she?” Moby Dick.

    With each throw, the books opened in mid-air sending a shower of crumpled paper bills around the room. The bill soared like little green and white birds, tumbling and spinning and floating before resting on the rug.

    He didn’t move.

    “You gave her away, dad. You gave,” Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.

    “My,” Master and Commander.

    “Mother,” Treasure Island.

    “Away.” Book after book. “I hate you.”

    I couldn’t control my words. I couldn’t control my mouth. I couldn’t control my arm.

    “I hate you.” Green and white birds swirling and flapping.

    “I hate you.”

    So yeah, I try to get my point across in the simplist way possible, and often that includes sparse description and a lot of sentence fragments.
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2016
    FifthView likes this.
  5. Michael K. Eidson

    Michael K. Eidson Archmage

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    Read Enemy by K. Eason. Uses sentence fragments all through the story, and they aren't always that short. Leaves out sentence subjects as a matter of writing style.
     
  6. druidofwinter

    druidofwinter Sage

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    This is something I have been thinking about over the past few days. I noticed in the writing of action sequences how many fragments I used. I imagined how, if seen out of context (or even perhaps in context), a grammarian would frown. I had to take a look at some of the books on my shelf to remind myself that this was acceptable.
    So yes, I definitely love me so sentence fragments. They add without doubt to the jarring, disjointed feel you may be going for in some intense action/emotional scenes. They can also feel like dabs of color on a descriptive canvas.
     
  7. Michael K. Eidson

    Michael K. Eidson Archmage

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    Then there are those authors who love putting a period after each word of a sentence to give it more emphasis. Usually the sentence is three words long, and often would be a sentence fragment even if you removed the extraneous periods. Just. Like. This.
     
  8. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

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    I've done that, mainly in dialogue where it makes more sense that people sometimes do talk that way.
     
    Michael K. Eidson likes this.
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