Have Shifted, take a look at her craft short in Hunger Mountain. I wasand ama bit fanatical on the subject. Since July Ive been thinking about Cunninghams insistence that every sentence should be a good one. Letter from the Pulitzer Fiction Jury: What Really Happened This Year the New Yorker online, July 9, 2012 Michael Cunningham, one of the three Pulitzer fiction jurors for 2012, wrote the following about sentences: I was the language crank, the one who swooned over sentences. When she has time, she blogs at Catching Days, which hosts the How We Spend Our Days series for writers. Use sentence fragments. Perhaps good is best defined by what a sentence is not: indifferent, slack, utilitarian, boring. . I dont read looking for bad sentences, and now I wonder if I read right over them. Anne Enright in The Gathering : I was back to school runs and hovering and ringing other-mothers for other-mother things, like play dates, and where to buy Rebeccas Irish dancing shoes (133).
The Year of Magical Thinking, by Joan Didion: She was reaching a point at which she would need once again to be, if she was to recover, on her own. Ts permission until she tells them to knock it off and for heavens sake just use the phone already (138). I ignored sentences I had underlined, and I ignored first sentencesboth of books and of chapters.
Or do the best books not contain bad sentences? So in each of the books, I turned to the first complete sentence (that was not dialogue) on page one hundred forty-three. The Gathering : I close my eyes against the warm sunlight and doze beside the dozing stranger on the Brighton train (55). Her first two novels placed in the 2010 Faulkner-Wisdom writing competition one on the Shortlist for Finalists. Note: Enright repeats doze in the adjective form of dozing. Try reading your work aloud; you might be able to hear a clunky sentence. I would periodically look for his letter online, and, having forgotten Id already printed it, print it again.
And that is not the bar of great but the bar of good. Is it the quality of the words (strong verbs, for example the details, the content or message, the rhythm, the voice, the tone, the length, that it is complicated or simple, that it is substantial, that it is clever? Brian Doyle in Joyas Voladoras from The Best American Essays 2005 : So much held in a heart in a day, an hour, a moment (30). Stop-Time, by Frank Conroy: The balcony trembled. Note : Enright uses other-mother both as a noun and as an adjective, where it supplies a frame for the vagueness of things, which she then frames even more by using examples. The same word as different parts of speech.
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