Walk Without Rhythm

So, here‘s what I got from the Daily Post today. It’s a fairly interesting post about rhythm in words, sentences and paragraphs. But I was intrigued by the very end, which I will repeat here:

Pay attention to which sentence configurations you find most appealing. What makes a given arrangement more appealing to you than another? Can you think of ways in which you might use different sentence lengths to accomplish different rhetorical goals?

If you’ve read, well, any of my writing, you’ll know that I like to use long, complicated sentences with lots of commas, purple prose, and sometimes digressions in the middle. Sentences that often could be acceptably split into two or more. Meanwhile, my paragraphs often have very few sentences, and sometimes could be reasonably connected to an adjacent paragraph.

Now during the writing process it’s actually pretty common for me to think to myself, “Wow, that’s a really long sentence” or “By the time people get to the end of that sentence they’ll have forgotten where it started” or even sillier things that I’m not feeling creative enough to think up just now. I don’t think I’ve ever really consciously considered sentence length as something that needed to be taken into consideration, except perhaps a few times when I ran really, really long and even I couldn’t stomach it. I write them like that because that’s how they should be. That’s my style, my voice, that’s how I write, even how I think. (It’s not too far removed from how I speak, though a lot more polished.) I can try to alter it, or to ape someone else, but it never feels right, never feels like my words.

As for using different lengths for different goals, I can somewhat see the idea there, but I’m not sure I could employ it. At least not consciously. As the DP article suggests, it’s something I do by feel, not with any formula or consideration. Whatever rules I follow, I’m usually not really aware of them.

Aware or not, these rules must exist, and I doubt they are any more or less arbitrary than the human mind. Exactly how arbitrary the human mind is, and on what scale and how such things are measured and so on I will leave as an exercise for the reader. While you’re figuring that out, I’m going to have a beer.

About Leo Tarvi

Mostly fictional.

Posted on October 20, 2011, in Daily Post and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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