Masters tales

Sentence length…

I have an issue with sentence lengths.

I feel that I ought to be standing in a darkened room with other writers as we all try to come to terms with out foibles with writing. I knew one writer that loved to have a musical feel to his work, consequently he would count the syllables to make sure every sentence sounded right.

I am no where near this stage but I am bothered by sentence length, unless it is done for effect. If you are building tension or creating an explosion of action then short sentences can work really well. They cut the pace of the text and bring the reader up short. They can be like psychoa heart beat and thump along to give the same effect as the music in ‘Psycho’, just as the knife comes down. But if they are in the middle of a paragraph that ought to flow they are wrong. It makes you stop. Then start again and if it has said nothing, or done nothing, why is it there? Why not just extend the sentence on?

I find myself re-reading paragraphs in case I have missed something. How was that important? Only to find that it wasn’t. They just used a short sentence.

I edit them out of my work, especially if I don’t need them.

Maybe there is a point that they are there and I need to keep reading in order to get to it. But with interrupted reading would I continue?

It’s a bit like an ebook I got from one of my favorite authors. I thought – brilliant, a novella that will be good because it is this writer. Except it was a half formed idea. It said nothing about the characters nor did it progress the plot. I was left with nothing at the end except a vague feeling of a wasted afternoon. The author in question writes incredibly long and complicated books about crime and relationships, but this was like her version of a short sentence. I was left thinking – why? It did nothing for me.

Why is that?

When writers create a short novella or a short sentence they have to mean something. they have to leave you feeling something. I feel like I was taken out on a date and then dropped unceremoniously at my door without a thank you or a kiss goodnight. So this is my rant to all novella writers and those with short sentence syndrome – it has to mean something. It doesn’t matter if it is short – there has to be purpose to the writing and if there isn’t make it longer and give it purpose. Us readers need it in order to pick up the next novel or sentence.

Rant over. I am now going to edit out all my inexcusable short sentences from the book I’m writing. 🙂

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