Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Sentences That Multitask

I am of the opinion that writers can get too obsessed with packing excessive detail into each ‘n’ every sentence. Since I love you, and despite your string of torrid affairs with the milkmaid, I will help you unpack some of that baggage clogging up your putrid first novel.

Example A – Infodump

On the eve of his marriage to supermodel Gloria Branson, respected Nuclear Physicist Alan Wadkins strode into the Conference Room of the Research Institute in Dusseldorf where he was about to give an important speech on fission, feeling unsure he loved her sufficiently to do a wedding.

Yes, aren’t you clever? You established the protagonist’s name, occupation, social status, and private life along with the setting and the first plot strand in this sentence. Well done! But this sentence is sick, mon amour. You have stuffed a box of Cadbury’s Cream Eggs up its posterior and left this sentence a retching chocolaty husk.


On the eve of his marriage to Gloria, physicist Alan Wadkins strode into the Conference Room, feeling unsure he loved her sufficiently to do a wedding.

Take it easier, Chappie. You can introduce setting and other details later. For now, all we need is the hook – the plot morsel on which your putrid novel hinges. Now you can proceed.

Example B – Simultaneity

As Alan caught his zipper in the door handle, Linda walked past – he waved his arms and gestured to her but she was too busy chatting to a cute undergrad about his term paper.

It seems unlikely that Alan’s attention would be directed anywhere other than his zippered dick, no? You quivering cookie. Likewise, Linda is either walking or talking to this cute undergrad, she isn’t walking and talking… like we ever do that in life, especially with hot meat we want vertical in our bedroom counting the stars in our eyes. Nuh.


As Alan caught his zipper in the door handle, he winced in pain, watching Linda score with a hot undergrad on campus.

Thass better.

More soon. I have to sandblast a cabinet now.


  1. *snickersnort*
    *stares at Alan's dick caught in his zipper*
    Yeah, I will go along with that being the ONLY thing he's thinking about.

    And I am a HUGE advocate of simple sentence structure most of the time. I have a theory. People that try to act smart through overly complicated communication (whether vocabulary or sentence structure) is actually suffering from self-esteem issues. BEAUTIFUL sentences, go for it. COMPLICATED? In and of itself, not terribly admirable.

  2. It's all about time. The new reader has little time for your book, he/she needs to get back to txting!

    At one time, I was paid bigmoney (denominations, not physical size) for writing computer programs.
    I used a language called APL (clever IBM, A Programming Language).
    It used letters of the Greek alphabet, each letter with four possible functions - one when used alone, one when preceded by another, one when followed by another, and one when stuffed between two others.
    Using these functions, a CLEVER programmer could create one line of program that did more than hundreds of lines in another language. EXPERTS loved to see just how condensed their programs could be. Such programs were unmaintainable - if they had a bug, delete them and write a replacement - cos NO ONE could decipher how they were working.

    This is relevant - it shows how some people love seeing how much they can pack into so little, and think they are clever.

  3. Facebook - with it's character limit for comments - encourages those packed sentences doesn't it.

  4. I'm glad you two possoms agree.

    Tart: I do this. Always. My massive self-esteem issues result in me using words that haven't even been invented yet. Gulp.

    Mike: Yes, that's a great comparison. The literary equivalent of intellectual masturbation.

  5. Twitter too!!! 140 character soundbites. Great post. I am more adept at poetic word masturbation. I tend toward paragraph length sentences when wearing the narrator condom, popping a full load too early and impregnating the pages with filth. (wait - I am wearing a condom on my head, though)