09 September 2013

Jesus wept.

From Roy Peter Clark’s essay for the New York Times, “The Short Sentence as Gospel Truth”:

Using short sentences to their full effect is a centuries-old strategy, found in opinion writing, fiction and nonfiction, poetry and plays. It works in a formal speech or in a handwritten letter. . . . There are times when these truth-bearing (truth-baring!) sentences come in a cluster, heightening the drama. The sentences also can appear as a stand-alone paragraph, swimming in white space. . . .

A long sequence of short sentences slows the reader down, each period acting as a stop sign. That slow pace can bring clarity, create suspense or magnify emotion, but can soon become tedious. It turns out that the short sentence gains power from its proximity to longer sentences…
Clark quotes a number of examples, to good effect.

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