Mastering the long sentence in your writing. "Writing is an act of faith, not a trick of grammar" - E B White
A close reading of Wolfe suggests some strategies to achieve mastery of the long sentence:
• It helps if subject and verb of the main clause come early in the sentence.
• Use the long sentence to describe something long. Let form follow function.
• It helps if the long sentence is written in chronological order.
• Use the long sentence in variation with sentences of short and medium length.
• Use the long sentence as a list or catalog of products, names, images. • Long sentences need more editing than short ones. Make every word count. Even. In. A. Very. Long. Sentence.
In the 1940s Rudolf Flesch described the effects that made a sentence “easy” or “hard” to read. According to Flesch, an 1893 study illuminated the shrinking English sentence: “The average Elizabethan written sentence ran to about 45 words; the Victorian sentence to 29; ours to 20 and less.” Flesch used sentence length and syllable count as factors in his readability studies, an arithmetic once derided by E. B. White in his essay “Calculating Machine.” “Writing is an act of faith,” wrote White, “not a trick of grammar.”
The good writer must believe that a good sentence, short or long, will not be lost on the reader. And although Flesch preached the value of the good eighteen-word sentence, he praised long sentences written by such masters as Joseph Conrad.
Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer by Roy Peter Clark
“We all are learning, modifying, or destroying ideas all the time. Rapid destruction of your ideas when the time is right is one of the most valuable qualities you can acquire. You must force yourself to consider arguments on the other side.
— Charles T. Munger”
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