265 words sentence OR how a writer avoids a problematic scene

It is also tempting, watching that last very long sentence, to see how long I can make a single sentence without either resorting to semi-colons, which is a form of cheating since it combines two sentences into one, or to parentheticals that contain entire other sentences, (although I will grant that a parenthetical such as this one, which contains a diversion that is directly relevant to the subject at hand, could be interesting under the right circumstances provided that it is part of the current thought and not some tangent thrown in for the express purpose of making a sentence longer through perambulations into areas of no import) because the exercise might be one that would allow me to explore both structure, and theme, in an expanded form in the same ways that something like a haiku allows one to explore structure and theme in a very condensed form, but the nature of a long sentence is such that it requires utmost attention not only from the person writing the sentence but also from the reader, who is, without a doubt, wondering at the length and attempting to parse the various parts of the sentence while laughing — at least I hope laughter comes at some point — at the very length and the structure that is the subject of the exploration while at the same time recognizing that the entire sentence is an exercise in punctuation and the effect it has on breath and also that there is a distinct possibility that the sentence might never come to an end and then it does.

In all seriousness — well, perhaps not ALL seriousness — or at least in partial seriousness, try to read it outloud because the punctuation actually works for breath management even if it is not, at all times, grammatically correct.

It was late. The scene was making me cranky. That is all the explanation you get.

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8 Responses

  1. Brad Roberts

    I just had a flashback to a junior high english class.. “Ok, diagram this sentence: …”

  2. Jayrod Garrett

    Good way to escape the evilness of the scene that was making you cranky.  I’ve never thought of using humorous writing to help me to escape a scene that I’m having difficulty with.  Thanks for a new tool!

  3. -d-

    I think you met Miss Betty but don’t think you had any long conversations with her and that is a shame. That is the way she talked. It was not uncommon for her to talk for several minutes in one sentance that covered the universe, or at least our galaxy and then come back to the point and you then realized that the rest of the sentace that you thaought was was just a tangent was really necessary for you to grasp what it was that she was telling you.

  4. David Jones

    Mary,

    That sentence, while no doubt long, exemplifies your mastery
    of the written form in that, despite the length, you avoided straying into the
    realm of loquaciousness by progressively tightening (in both structure and word
    choice) the reader’s focus on the subject to hand rather than extending the
    number of words in a vain attempt to gain more literary ground from a paragraph
    that would have quickly become mired in verbose  chicanery which, when read aloud, interrupts
    the reader’s  natural breathing pattern
    and, when scanned silently, exhausts the mind to such an extent that the
    unfortunate soul loses track of the gist, assuming that hapless reader hasn’t
    given up altogether, waving the metaphorical white flag in order to find some
    smaller diet of words more palatable especially in today’s diminished market
    where a story’s hook must set within the first paragraph even in an epic fantasy whose
    tale spans six figures and whose denouement  must fit format or face a fizzling finale when
    as late as 1971 the great Herman Wouk could pen his history-spanning The Winds
    of War in which he displays a cunning gift for long, interweaving sentences
    that, when given voice, take wing to perform clever aerials, twisting back at
    the end , hearkening to their beginnings, much like the book-ended novel
    condensed to a single, character revealing, scene setting sentence that coils
    in upon itself, a verbal viper its fangs sharp–succinct in thought and long on
    meaning.     
     

    –david j.

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