If you want to vary your sentence length for interest and colour in your flash fictions, read what David Swann has to say about writing long sentences and the example of a long sentence from the story called ‘Sentence’ in his first prize-winning Novella in Flash, Season of Bright Sorrow available from Ad Hoc Fiction and Amazon. We love the triple meaning of the title ‘Sentence’ in this story. There is literally a long sentence, the character Lana is ‘sentenced’ to live in a dilapidated boarding house and her father is serving a sentence in prison.
The first part of the flash ‘Sentence’ copied below from page 83 of my novella in flash Season of Bright Sorrow is written as one continuous sentence. I enjoy these experiments because they shake me out of old habits, and I like seeing where the sentence carries me. I think there are also long-term benefits, e.g. the elastification of one’s syntax. Usually this device works best when the lone sentence has a character and/or narrative purpose, and isn’t simply showing off! Here, I was trying to give a sense of mounting panic in Lana, so that the form and content were working together. My friend Greg Challis once wrote a hilarious long-sentence flash that was powered by the pomposity of the treasurer of a working man’s club who was offering increasingly ridiculous explanations for some missing funds.
Yawning and rubbing her eyes, Lana stumbled towards the shower, worried as usual that she’d breathe in spores from the bathroom’s fetid air, worried that the spider may have been forced by some obstacle to hang even closer than usual to the mirror where she brushed her hair and that it would get tangled up with the brush and wriggle into her ear, as a kid at school had claimed was possible, not that you could trus the squirts in her class, most of them as bad as Archie, the stuff they came out with: wild boasts and bare-faced lies – for instance, loads more mad stories spouted by the lad who’d invented that nonsense about spiders wriggling into your brain, the same lad who’d claimed that no piece of chewing gum was ever digested by your body, so that all the chewing gum you ever swallowed would still be in your stomach when you died, and if the morticians cut you open with a knife, they’d find it all rolled up together, an entire history of your horrible habits compressed into a solid pink boulder, like the gum they’d discovered inside the life prisoner after he’d snuffed it in his cell of scurvy or something like that, what with the lack of vitamins in him, on account of scoffing junk like chewing gum for twenty years, which, of course, Lana should know all about, her being the daughter of a bloke who was serving a life sentence for…
For Tips on writing long sentences, read this at Copybot
How To Write A Brilliant Long Sentence
The digital age has changed the way we read. We skim copy for important bits of information that cater specifically to our need to know. Being concise and grammatically nuanced, as well as quick and relevant is a challenge.
Another writing tip from David Swann coming next week!