The long and the short of it.


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Thread: The long and the short of it.

  1. #1

    The long and the short of it.

    "Forasmuch as we be credibly informed that our ancient enemies of France, by many and sundry ways, conspire and study the means to the subversion of this our realm, and of unity among our subjects, as in sending writing by seditious persons with counterfeit tokens, and contrive false inventions,tidings, and rumours, to the intent to provoke and stir discord and disunion betwix us and our lords, which be as faithfully disposed as any subjects can suffice. We therefore ..."

    Now, that is quite a sentence, not the longest I have seen, but from an excellent source, Richard III, (The actual one, not Shakespeare) so it is 'The King's English' no less.

    My point is that long sentences are out of fashion, but it actually strikes me as a perfectly good sentence. It does not wander off topic and then come back, it does not have the verb one end and it's subject the other. There are subordinate phrases such as 'by many and sundry ways' and examples of the ways they are attempting to 'subvert unity' and 'stir discord', but they are clear and don't take us off up misleading paths.

    The one following, starting 'We therefore ...', is slightly longer if anything, and commands that if one comes across such things one should 'search and inquire as to the first showers' inter them and 'proceed to sharp punishment'.

    Okay, it is loquacious, a bit long winded, but if one is dealing with a single subject like this why not make sentences a bit longer, it is often a good alternative to multiple sentences that start 'He' and describe a sequence of actions, for example.
    A new story

    I finally got 'A Family Business' recorded and loaded, all 37 mins of it, much longer than any I have done before.
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  2. #2
    "It was not because of the food which, while it wouldn't cause any sleepless nights in the kitchens of the Savoy, was adequate enough, nor was it because of any aesthetic objections our cargo of creative artists might have entertained towards the dining saloon's decor which was, by any standards, quite superb: it was a symphony in teak furniture and wine-coloured carpets and curtains, not, admittedly, what one would look to find on the average trawler but, then, the average trawler, when its fishing days are over-as the Morning Rose's were deemed to be in 1956-doesn't have the good fortune to be re-engined and converted to a luxury yacht by, of all people, a shipping millionaire whose enthusiasm for the sea was matched only by his massive ignorance of all things nautical."

    Bear Island, Alistair Maclean

  3. #3
    I don’t mind a long sentence; I never quite buy into that ‘write all sentences as long as your breath’ idea either, though short sentences have their place too. Variety is my watchword, I suppose. Still, that sentence is a humdinger. Unless I misunderstand the meaning of ‘forasmuch’ (possible), the whole thing is a fragment, a subordinate clause.


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  4. #4

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Olly Buckle View Post
    "Forasmuch as we be credibly informed that our ancient enemies of France, by many and sundry ways, conspire and study the means to the subversion of this our realm, and of unity among our subjects, as in sending writing by seditious persons with counterfeit tokens, and contrive false inventions,tidings, and rumours, to the intent to provoke and stir discord and disunion betwix us and our lords, which be as faithfully disposed as any subjects can suffice. We therefore ..."
    What is the subject?

    Long sentences, which I have decided, after years of study, which included the study of different techniques, are more vulnerable, because of their length, are more likely to create difficulties with commas, the basic dividing marks of sentence, but used for other purposes, and organizing the parts, created by the commas, so that they become more difficult to understand, the assignment of pronouns also being a problem, and so need care in writing them, which of course any sentence needs and deserves, because the goal of writing is to communicate, surely, and that is not always easy, and skill in recognizing the potential problems, but you already knew that.

    Trust me.
    Modern Punctuation and Grammar: Tools not Rules is finally published and available for $3 Hidden Content . Should be mandatory for serious writers, IMO. Italics, Fragments, Disfluency, lists, etc. But also commas and paragraph length. Discussed use of adverbs, and ends with a chapters on the awesome moment and the grammar of action scenes. Description at my Hidden Content

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