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Your Writing Voice and Sentence Structure

Along with our diction and pacing in our writing, our sentence structure is part of our Voice in writing.


The Bare Bones of Sentence Structure

We have simple sentences. (


We also have complex sentences. (Independent clause + dependent clause = part of the sentence can stand by itself + part cannot)


We have compound sentences. (2 Independent clauses combined with a comma and a *coordinating conjunction*)


*Coordinating Conjunctions: and, or, but, for, so, nor, yet — yes, they rhyme. How do you think I manage to remember them after all these years?!*


And, we have compound complex sentences. (2 more more independent clauses combined with dependent clauses)


A Mixed Lot

We should be able to use the sentence structure that best fits our stories. Our sentence structure choices and our preferences for paticular sentence structure are part of our writing Voice.


Look at Hemingway’s sentence structure:


He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish. In the first forty days a boy had been with him.


— From The Old Man and the Sea


Now, look at Faulkner’s:


Sitting beside the road, watching the wagon mount the hill toward her, Lena thinks, ‘I have come from Alabama: a fur piece. All the way from Alabama a-walking. A fur piece.’ Thinking although I have not been quite a month on the road I am already in Mississippi, further from home than I have ever been before. I am now further from Doane’s Mill than I have been since I was twelve years old.


From Light in August


How does sentence structure impact your writing/reading?

Filed under: Writing Tagged: Faulkner, Hemingway, sentence structure, types of sentences, Voice, Writing Voice
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Published on May 20, 2012 10:26 • 20 views

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